Skip to main content

Full text of "Midstream: My Later Life"

See other formats

15 WEST 16th STREET 
PW YORK, N.Y., 10011 


Digitized by 

the Internet Archive 

in 2015 

my later life 




Helen Keller and Sieglinde 


My Later L if e 



Garden City, New York 








"There be many shapes of mystery; 
And many things God brings to be, 

Past hope or fear. 
And the end men looked for cometh not, 
And a path is there where no man thought. 

So hath it fallen here." 

— ^Euripides. 


Somewhere in the course of her book Miss Keller 
speaks of the "sacrosanct privacy to which tradition 
and the necessities of concentrated thinking entitle 
writers and artists." It is something she has never 
known. Since she was seven years old, when she was 
hailed as "a most extraordinary little individual," 
"a mental prodigy," and "an intellectual phenom- 
enon," whose achievements were "little short of a 
miracle," whose progress was "a sort of triumphant 
march— a series of dazzling conquests," the great 
megaphones of publicity have followed her, trumpet- 
ing truth and untruth with equal fury, even when the 
truth alone was more wonderful than all the embel- 
lishments heated imaginations could add to it. 

Helen Keller was born, a perfectly healthy and 
normal child, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 
1880. At the age of eighteen months she was stricken 
with a severe illness, the exact nature of which is not 
known. It left her deaf and blind; as a result 
of the deafness she soon became dumb also. 
For five years she remained imprisoned. Then, 
through Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, to whom her 
father appealed because he knew Dr. Bell's interest 


in the deaf, a deliverer was sent to her in the person 
of a twenty-year-old graduate of the Perkins Institu- 
tion for the Blind at Boston, Mass., a girl by the 
name of Anne Mansfield Sullivan. From the day of 
Miss Sullivan's arrival on March 2, -1887, the story 
of Miss Keller's life reads like a fairy tale. Within a 
month the teacher had presented the gift of language 
to her little pupil, an achievement in itself so 
miraculous that fifty years earlier no one had be- 
lieved it possible. Until Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe 
proved through the education of Laura Bridgman 
that their minds could be reached and shown how 
to reach out, the totally blind and deaf were classi- 
fied with idiots and left alone. 

Since Laura's education numbers of those afflicted 
a& she was have been placed in communication with 
the world. Some of them have shown considerable 
natural ability, but Helen Keller is to-day, as she 
has always been, incomparably the greatest among 
them. She is the only one who has ever been received, 
without apology, into the world of the seeing. In a 
college for normal girls to which she was admitted 
reluctantly and without favour she won a degree cum 
laude in the same length of time it took her classmates 
to win theirs. She has learned to speak — the only 
, deaf-blind person in America of whom this is true. 
She has acted in vaudeville and in motion pictures; 
she has lectured in every state in the Union except 

Florida/ and in many parts of Canada; she has writ- 
ten books of literary distinction and permanent 
value; she has, since her graduation from college, 
taken an active part in every major movement on 
behalf of the blind in this country, and she has 
managed to carry on a wide correspondence in Eng- 
lish, French, and German, and to keep herself in- 
formed by means of books and magazines in those 
three languages. 

Two years ago she laid down— temporarily— her 
work for the American Foundation for the Blind, 
thinking to go quietly to her home on Long Island, 
and there with her teacher, Mrs. Macy,^ her secre- 
tary. Miss Thomson, and her Great Dane, Sieglinde, 
review the part of her life which had elapsed since 
her sophomore year at Radcliffe College when The 
Story of My Life, which is the story of her child- 
hood and young girlhood, was published. 

I think she had not realized how difficult it would 
be to isolate herself. She could stop sending letters 
out, but she could not stop them coming in, nor could 
she head ofif the beggars who swarmed to her door. 
Few people realize what is expected— nay, what is 
demanded— of her. Not a day passes without urgent 
and heartbreaking appeals from all over the world. 
They come by letter and in person— from the blind, 
thedeaf, the crippled, the sick, the poverty-stricken, 

^Since this was written Miss Keller has also lectured in Florida. 
^Formerly Miss Anne Mansfield Sullivan. 

and the sorrow-laden. In addition to these, there 
are, of course, requests for pictures, autographs, testi- 
monials, and explanations of what she thinks of re- 
incarnation or prohibition. But the majority of Miss 
Keller's letters and the majority of her callers come 
with distressing pleas for help. "Oh, Miss Keller, 
you, with your unparalleled opportunities! You, 
with your wealthy friends!" 

The letters were turned over to Miss Thomson and 
Miss Keller sat down— it must be confessed without 
special enthusiasm, for she has never been greatly 
interested in herself— to continue the story of her 
life. Almost immediately Miss Thomson was im- 
peratively called away, and Mrs. Macy, who is 
nearly blind, and Miss Keller, who is quite blind, 
were left to struggle along as best they could. 

They got their own meals, Mrs. Macy doing most 
of the cooking while Miss Keller washed the dishes, 
made the beds, did the dusting, and on Monday 
pricked out the laundry list in braille so she could 
check it when the clothes came back on Saturday. 
When the morning chores were done and the most 
insistent letters answered she turned to Midstream, 
Poignant, heartbreaking days out of the past swept 
over her; even to think of them was pain. 

She had known for many years that she would one 
day have to write this book, and had, in prepara- 
tion, jotted down in braille many fragmentary im- 


pressions. Going over them was slow work. Never 
believe one who tells you that the blind can read as 
rapidly as the seeing. The swiftest ^nger cannot keep 
up with the eye. [Itjs not only much slower, but in- 
finitely more laborious. The arm grows tired, the 
ends of the fingers ache, and Miss Keller discovered 
that the friction of years had worn down the 
treacherous little dots to such an extent that in marly 
cases she could not make out what she had written. 

Much of her material was not in braille. The let- 
ters from Mark Twain, Dr. Bell, William James, 
and others were in hand- or typewriting. So was 
most of the data on the blind except that which the 
American Foundation for the Blind had put into 
raised print. Numbers of articles and stray para- 
graphs of her own she had typed, thereby, since she 
had at the same time destroyed her braille notes, 
placing them forever beyond her own reach. All of 
this Mrs. Macy, Miss Thomson, and I read to her 
by means of the manual alphabet. 

Miss Keller had not been long at work before 
Mrs. Macy became ill. A temporary servant was 
called in. Mrs. Macy became much worse. The doc- 
tors were grave. She had been abusing her eyes. They 
had told her not to use them. Work on Midstream 
stopped abruptly. Nervous and anxious. Miss Keller 
paced the house and tramped the garden. She could 
not read, she could not write, she could not even 


think. It was not until Mrs. Macy was completely 
out of danger that the autobiography was resumed. 

Most of the time Miss Keller composed in braille 
and revised in braille. Sometimes she composed 
directly on the typewriter, pricking notations at the 
top of the pages with a hairpin so she could keep 
track of them. Parts she was most uncertain about she 
kept in braille a long time, going over and over them. 
Often, as she mulled over what she had written, she 
decided to write it again, and sometimes the second 
or the third or the fourth version was better than the 

The mass of material grew. Thousands of pages 
lay piled on the floor sprinkled through with thou- 
sands of directions: "Put this with what I have 
already written about the garden." . . . "Please 
see if the letter I had from Mr. Carnegie in 1913 
will not fit in here." ... "I think this quotation 
is right, but perhaps someone should verify it. It is 
not in raised print." . . . "These paragraphs may 
add a pleasant touch to what I have already written 
about Dr. Bell." 

Under Miss Keller's direction, oral and written, 
the typed manuscript was rewritten with scissors and 
paste, Mrs. Macy, Miss Thomson, and I constantly 
spelling back to her pages, paragraphs, and chapters. 
As Miss Keller says, it was like putting a picture 
puzzle together, only it was not a puzzle one could 


hold in a tray; sometimes it seemed as big as the 
whole city of New York, and sometimes it seemed 
bigger than that. When we had finished we gave it to 
a typist to copy while Miss Keller set to writing 
connecting paragraphs for chapters that did not fit 
together and rewriting parts she did not like and try- 
ing frantically to catch up with the outside claims 
upon her. Once she left Forest Hills at eleven o'clock 
in the morning, delivered an address in Washington 
at four o'clock in the afternoon, returned immedi- 
ately to Forest Hills where she arrived so late that 
the taxi drivers had gone to bed, walked home from 
the station, snatched a few hours' sleep, and went 
back to work the next morning at eight o'clock! They 
were heroic days. 

Even yet the book was to her a thing of shreds 
and patches. Naturally, our work did not begin with 
page one and run through to the end the way the 
reader has it now. It was done in small units and 
with many interruptions. When the typist had fin- 
ished, scissors and paste were once more brought 
out, and for the second time, under Miss Keller's 
direction, the manuscript was put together, after 
which it was spelled to her again three times from 
beginning to end while she made still further alter- 
ations. In galley proofs it was read to her once more 
and for the last time. To the end she was revising 
and rewriting. She has not yet read the book with 


her own fingers ; she cannot do that until the braille 

edition is printed. 

Of the content perhaps a word is necessary. The 
book is Miss Keller's. Doubts concerning the authen- 
ticity of her accomplishment have long since been 
laid to rest, even in Europe where for many years 
she was regarded as nothing more than a fine ex- 
ample of American exaggeration. It is only those 
who do not know her who suggest, now and then, that 
it is Mrs. Macy who tells her what to say. Miss Keller 
has convictions of her own, and a stubborn way of 
hanging on to them. In most instances they are not 
those of her teacher. Temperamentally she and Mrs. 
Macy are utterly dififerent, and the word "utterly" is 
not carelessly used. Each has chambers in her mind 
that the other does not, cannot, penetrate. No one 
can be more surprised at some of the revelations in 
this book than the woman who has lived in daily 
association with Miss Keller for the last forty years. 

There are people who think of Miss Keller as cut 
off from all that is unpleasant, living in a happy 
realm of ideality where everything is as it should 
be. This has never been true. Six months after she 
went to Alabama Mrs. Macy wrote, "From the be- 
ginning I have made it a practice to answer all 
Helen's questions to the best of my ability and at the 
same time truthfully." 

Much has been made of the fact that in the educa- 



tion of Helen Keller Mrs. Macy followed the 
methods of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who taught 
Laura Bridgman. It is true that they both used the 
manual alphabet as their means of communication, 
but it is also true that neither of them invented it. 
Mrs. Macy's method of presenting language to her 
pupil was unlike Dr. Howe's, as has been made clear 
in The Story of My Life. As for the difference in 
method after language was acquired, the statement 
of Mrs. Macy's I have just quoted, which was writ- 
ten when Miss Keller was seven years old and had 
been under instruction four months, may be con- 
trasted with this from Dr. Howe in a letter to Laura 
when she was fifteen years old and had been under 
instruction for seven years: "Your mind is young 
and weak and cannot understand hard things, but by 
and by it will be stronger and you will be able to 
understand hard things." Laura had asked him about 
"God and heaven and souls and many questions." 

It is annoying to a certain type of mind to have 
Miss Keller describe something she obviously can- 
not know through direct sensation. The annoyance 
is mutual. These sensations, whatever expert opinion 
on them may be, are as real to her as any others. Her 
idea of colour, to take only one instance, is built up 
through association and analogy. Pink is "like a 
baby's cheek or a soft Southern breeze." Gray is 
"like a soft shawl around the shoulders." Yellow is 


^'like the sun. It means life and is rich in promise." 
There are two kinds of brown. One is "warm and 
friendly like leaf mould." The other is "like the 
trunks of aged trees with worm holes in them, or like 
withered hands." Lilac, which is her teacher's 
favourite colour, "makes her think of faces she has 
loved and kissed." The warm sun brings out odours 
that make her think of red. Coolness brings out 
odours that make her think of green. A sparkling 
colour brings to mind soap bubbles quivering under 
her hand. 

In her descriptions of San Francisco, to which ob- 
jections are sure to be raised, she is not repeating 
something she has been told. She is telling what she 
has built up for herself out of the descriptions she 
has read and those that have been spelled to her. 
In what way her picture differs from ours we can- 
not say, for she has only our language to use in de- 
scribing it. Mark Twain used to think that her im- 
ages were more beautiful and gave his own experi- 
ence with Niagara Falls and the Taj Mahal to prove 
it. In his imagination before he saw them Niagara 
Falls were "finer than anything God ever thought 
of in the way of scenery," and the Taj Mahal was a 
"rat hole" compared with what he thought it would 
be. "I thank God," he said one day after Miss Keller 
had described the face of a friend, "she can't see." ^ 

All that Miss Keller claims for her world is 


that there is a workable correspondence between it 
and ours, since she finds no incongruity in living in 
both at the same time. William James was not sur- 
prised at this correspondence. I think few phil- 
osophers are. They see only too clearly how much of 
what we all know and feel has come to us not through 
personal knowledge, but through the accumulated 
experience of our ancestors and contemporaries as 
it is handed down and given over to us in words. She 
is, thinks Professor Pierre Villey, himself a blind 
man, and a most careful observer, a dupe of words, 
and her aesthetic enjoyment of most of the arts is "a 
matter of auto-suggestion rather than perception." 
He is right, but this is true of all of us. 

It has been doubted that Miss Keller can enjoy 
sculpture, since it is addressed to the eye, yet the 
sculptor's own contact with his work is as much with 
the hand as with the eye. 

Her enjoyment of music has also been thrown 
open to question. She has "listened" with her fingers 
to the piano and the violin and various devices 
have been contrived to make it possible for her to 
''hear" an orchestra. Recently she has been listening 
over the radio by placing her fingers lightly on a 
sounding board of balsa wood. She can tell when the 
announcer is talking and she has learned to recognize 
station WEAF by the dogmatic staccato of the an- 
nouncer's voice when he repeats the letters. She can 


tell whether one or more instruments are playing, and 
very frequently can tell what the instruments are. 
The singing voice she sometimes confuses with the 
violin. The 'cello and the bass viol are likewise con- 
fused, but there is never a mistake in the rhythm or 
the general mood of the selection, though efforts 
have been made to trip her up on these two points. 

Miss Keller's impressions of the world have come 
much as they do to anyone, only the mechanism is 
different. She reads with her fingers instead of her 
eyes and listens with her hands instead of her ears. 
Those who are familiar with the manual alphabet 
generally use it in talking to her. One who is accus- 
tomed to talking in this way talks with as little em- 
barrassment as in any other. Those who do not know 
the manual alphabet talk with their mouths and Miss 
Keller listens by placing her fingers lightly on the 
lips. She talks with her mouth and is readily under- 
stood by anyone who has been with her a short time. 
Her voice is not normal, but to those of us who are 
used to it, it seems no more abnormal than that of a 
person with a marked foreign accent. 

So far as tests have been able to determine, her 
sensory equipment is in no way, except perhaps in the 
sense of smell, superior to that of the normal person. 
She seems totally without the sense of direction which 
is so pronounced in some of the deaf blind. In her 
own home, which is not large, she frequently starts 


toward the opposite wall instead of the door, and 
orients herself by contact with the furniture. When 
the rugs are taken up she is completely bewildered 
and has to learn the whole pattern again. Her sense 
of distance is also poor. She does not know when she 
has reached the door until she has run into it, and 
in winter when the ground is covered with snow and 
ice her daily walk becomes a mighty adventure. 

Much nonsense has been written about her; no 
doubt much more will be. She is perfectly aware of 
it, and also of the criticisms that have been levelled 
against her. No attack that has ever been made 
has been withheld from her. I think she has come 
to know that, in judging her, mistakes have been made 
on both sides. We have been trying to interpret what 
she feels in terms of what we feel, and she, whose 
greatest desire has always been, like that of most of 
the handicapped, to be like other people, has been 
trying to meet us half way. So it is that we find 
ourselves in the end where we were in the beginning, 
on opposite sides of a wall. Little bits have crumbled 
away, but the wall is still there, and there is no 
way to break it down. 

Many have tried. She has been the subject of much 
scientific experimentation and philosophical specu- 
lation. This has caused a great deal of disturbance in 
learned minds, for she has a disconcerting way of 
upsetting nearly all preconceived theories about her- 



self. Even William James went through this experi- 
ence. No one has yet said the final word about her, 
except in one particular. William James did that 
when at the end of his consideration he said, "The 
sum of it is that you are a blessing, and I'll kill any- 
one who says you are not." 

Nella Braddy. 



I. Tuning In i 

II. Youth, Oh, Youth 7 

III. My First Years in Wrentham 27 

IV. Our Mark Twain 47 
V. Leading the Blind 70 

VI. Per Ardua Proxime Ad Astra - 90 

\v^i VII. Wanderings 99 

VIII. My Oldest Friend 107 

IX. I Capitulate 139 

X. On "The Open Road" 149 

"^ i . .^e^. XI. In the Whirlpool 169 

- "^^ill. I Make Believe I Am an Actress 186 

XIII. The Play World 209 -W^^ 

^^ ^ir^XIV. My Mother 216 

^vv^/'^/XV. Lux in Tenebris / 224 

XVI. Muted Strings- ^ " 243 

XVII. Varied Chords W ^ 262 

XVIII. I Go Adventuring 295 

XIX. Enchanted Windows 313 

XX. Thoughts That Will Not Let Me Sleep 3 29 

XXI. My Guardian Angel 342 

Index 351 

. xxiii 

Miss Keller and Sieglinde Frontispiece 


Miss Keller's home at Wrentham 36 

Miss Keller, Miss Sullivan, and Dr. Bell 132 

Miss Keller, Mrs. Macy, Miss Thomson, and 
Hans 164 

Miss Keller teaching Charlie Chaplin the 
manual alphabet 196 

Miss Keller's mother. Miss Sullivan (Mrs. 
Macy), Miss Keller 220 

Miss Keller ^'listening" to the violin of Edwin 
Grasse 284 

Miss Keller and her sister, Mildred 308 



Chapter I 

T U N I N G I N 

When people are old enough to write their memoirs, 
it is time for them to die, it seems to me. It would 
save themselves and others a great deal of trouble 
if they did. But since I have the indiscretion to be 
still alive, I shall add to their burden by trying to 
set down the story of my life since I was a sopho- 
more at Radcliffe College. 

During many years I have written detached notes 
on whatever has interested me, in all kinds of moods, 
under all kinds of circumstances. This desultory 
manner of writing is temperamental with me. I like 
it because it gives me a chance to chat and laugh 
a little and be friendly along the way. 

I shall not attempt to follow a continuous thread 
of thought or give a special message in these pages. 
I shall not pursue any one idea up and down the 
labyrinths of the mind. It is my wish to jot down 
fugitive thoughts and emotions, and let them bear 


what they will. I have often been told that if I 
would put more such fleeting bits of life into words, 
I might add somewhat to the fund of sympathy, 
thought, and sincerity from which men draw 
strength to live. So if what grows out of my notes 
should not prove bright or fair, at least the seed 
is sweet — the seed of my friends' encouragement. 

Since I have been at work upon this auto- 
biography, I have frequently thought of the occu- 
pation which engaged the attention of my friend 
Colonel Roebling the latter years of his life. He was 
always a builder. In his young manhood he con- 
structed the Brooklyn suspension bridge, and inci- 
dentally invalided himself by staying too long under 
water in one of the caissons. Years later when I 
visited him in Trenton, New Jersey, he showed me 
with much enthusiasm a picture which he was build- 
ing out of little bits of paper. The picture repre- 
sented a great river spanned by a noble bridge, be- 
tween green hills; and the fleecy clouds of a sum- 
mer day were reflected in the blue waters. Every 
tiny bit of paper was tinted and shaped to fit into the 
design. Great patience and ingenuity were required 
to assemble the thousands of bits that composed the 
landscape and the flowing river. From a little tray 
he painstakingly selected lights and shadows, leaves 
and ripples, and the bridge's flowing spans. 

The process of shaping a book is not unlike 


Colonel Roebling's picture-building. Into the tray 
of one's consciousness are tumbled thousands of 
scraps of experience. That tray holds you dismem- 
bered, so to speak. Your problem is to synthesize 
yourself and the world you live in, with its moun- 
tains and streams, its oceans and skies, its volcanoes, 
deserts, cities and people, into something like a co- 
herent whole. The difficulty multiplies when you 
find that the pieces never look the same to you two 
minutes in succession. You pick them up, and find 
that they are "sicklied o'er" with sentiment, with old 
beliefs and relationships. With each new experience 
you pass through, they undergo strange transmuta- 
tions. I put together my pieces this way and that; 
but they will not dovetail properly. When I succeed 
in making a fairly complete picture, I discover 
countless fragments in the tray, and I do not know 
what to do with them. The longer I work, the more 
important these fragments seem; so I pull the pic- 
ture apart and start it all over again. I trace the 
irregular lines of experience through the design, and 
wonder at the queer conjunctions of facts and im- 
aginings. My sense of the fitness of things demands 
that there should be some degree of beauty in the 
composition; but alas, I am driven finally to the 
realization that the elements which went into the 
shaping of my life were not as carefully tinted and 
shaped as those in Colonel Roebling's picture. Per- 


haps, to the eye of the Creator, there may be sym- 
metry and purpose and fulfilment; but the 
individual perceives only fragments incongruously 
mingled together, and blank spaces v^hich one feels 
should be filled by something noble, dramatic, or ex- 

The first part of The Story of My Life was v^rit- 
ten in the form of daily and fortnightly themes in 
English 22 at Radcliffe College under Professor 
Charles Townsend Copeland. I had no idea of pub- 
lishing them and I do not remember how Mr. Bok 
became interested in them. I only know that one 
morning I was called out of my Latin class to meet 
Mr. William Alexander of the Ladies' Home Jour- 
nal If I remember rightly, Mr. Alexander said that 
Mr. Bok wished to publish The Story of My Life in 
monthly installments. I told him that it was out of 
the question, as my college work was all I could 
manage. His answer surprised me. "You have already 
written a considerable part of it in your themes." 

"How in the world did you find out I was writ- 
ing themes?" I exclaimed. He laughed and said it 
was his business to find out such things. He talked 
so optimistically about how easily the themes could 
be connected to form magazine articles that, with- 
out having a very clear idea of what I was doing, I 
signed an agreement to furnish the Ladies' Home 
Journal with The Story of My Life in monthly in- 


stallments for three thousand dollars. At the moment 
I thought of nothing but the three thousand dollars. 
There was magic in those three words. In my im- 
agination the story was already written. Indeed, it 
had already found a sure place in "The Golden 
Treasury of Literature." My happiness and conceit 
knew no bounds. Everything went smoothly at first. 
I had already written a number of themes which 
Mr. Copeland had read and criticized. He had 
also made suggestions which I was able to 
use in the first chapter. But the day was not far 
distant when I found that I had used all the suitable 
themes. I was in deep water, and frightened out of 
my wits. I was utterly inexperienced in the prepara- 
tion of magazine articles. I did not know how to 
cut my material to fit the given space. I had no idea 
that the time limit was of such importance until 
telegrams began to come, thick and fast, like greedy 
birds to a cherry tree. Special delivery letters filled 
the chorus of dismay : "We must have the next chap- 
ter immediately." "There is no connection between 
page six and page seven. Wire the missing part." 
Mr. Bok told me years afterwards that the 
people in Dante's Inferno had a pleasant time of 
it compared with what the staff of the Ladies' Home 
Journal endured while my story was on its way. He 
said he resolved then never again to start publish- 
ing a serial until he had the whole manuscript in his 


hands; he told me a few years ago that he never had. 
When things were at the worst, my friend, Lenore 
Kinney, who had just married Philip Sidney Smith, 
a classmate of John Macy's, told me about Mr. 
Macy. She described him as extremely clever, 
and just the sort of knight errant to deliver 
me from the jaws of this dilemma. At that time, Mr. 
Macy was an English instructor at Harvard Uni- 
versity. He had classes in Radclifife also, but I did 
not know him. Lenore arranged for us to meet. I 
liked him; he was eager, intelligent, gentle. He un- 
derstood my difficulties, and promptly set about re- 
lieving me of them. We went over the material I had 
^accumulated, which was in the state of original 
chaos. Quickly and skillfully he brought the re- 
calcitrant parts to order; and we constructed a tol- 
erably coherent and readable chapter in a few hours. 
Mr. Bok hailed him as a deus ex machina, and from 
that time on the Journal got its "copy" in fairly good 

Mr. Macy was a writer himself, with a keen, well- 
stored mind, and his advice was most precious to me. 
He was a friend, a brother, and an adviser all in one, 
and if this book is not what it should be, it is be- 
cause I feel lonely and bewildered without his sup- 
porting hand. 

Chapter II 

In The Story of My Life I went quite fully into 
my struggle for admission to Radclifife College. In 
these pages, therefore, I shall merely summarize my 
experiences and impressions. 

I knew that there would be obstacles to conquer ; 
but they only whetted my desire to try my strength 
by the standards of normal students. I thought that 
in college I should touch hands with girls who were 
interested in the same subjects that I was, and who 
were trying like me to hew out their own paths in 
life. I began my studies with enthusiasm. I entered 
the lecture halls in the spirit of the young men who 
gathered about Socrates and Plato. Here were cup- 
bearers "of the wine that's meant for souls" who 
would answer all the questions that perplexed me. 

But soon I found that my great expectation had 
sprung from inexperience. I was reminded of the 
upright divisions between the shelves in the library 
in a house where I lived while attending the Oilman 
School for Girls. When my teacher and I first saw 
them she exclaimed, "What beautiful books! Just 
feel them." I touched the handsome volumes and 


read some of the titles, which were so richly embossed 
that I could distinguish the letters. But when I tried 
to take one of them down I found that they were 
imitation books, all bound and lettered in gold to 
look like Chaucer, Montaigne, Bacon, Shakespeare, 
and Dante. That is the way I felt as the days in college 
passed, and my dreams faded into a rather drab 

Two insurmountable obstacles confronted me 
throughout my college course — lack of books in 
raised letters, and lack of time. Most of the required 
books Miss Sullivan read to me, spelling into my 
hand. Often when every one else in the house was 
asleep, she and I were busy with our books, trying 
to catch up with the day's reading. Generous friends 
like Mr. H. H. Rogers and Mr. William Wade 
would gladly have had the books specially made for 
me but often I could not find out from the profes- 
sors what books I would need in time to have them 
transcribed. No such splendid service as that offered 
by the Red Cross was available for blind students 
twenty-five years ago. If it had been there would 
have been fewer shadows of discontent and more lib- 
erty in my work. 

Books that were not in braille had to be read to 
me by means of the manual alphabet as rapidly as 
possible in order that I might keep up with the 
classes. I was a slow student and it tried my patience 


not to be able to read for myself the passages I 
especially wanted, as often as I pleased. Miss Sulli- 
van was ever at my side, not only reading to me and 
spelling the lectures into my hand but looking up 
words in Latin, German, and French dictionaries. 
She was not familiar with any of these languages, 
and to this day I marvel how, with her imperfect 
sight, she accomplished such an arduous task. 

Each volume in braille — and I remember 
especially ''Othello," ''A Winter's Tale," "Henry 
IV," ''Henry V," and the Sonnets, parts of Livy and 
Tacitus, Plautus's plays, and the poetry of Catullus, 
selections from Pope, Dryden, Addison, and Steele, 
and the poets to whose divine songs I still withdraw 
from the discords of the world : Keats, Wordsworth, 
Browning, and Shelley — was a treasure island to me, 
and it was an inexpressibly sweet sense of inde- 
pendence I had preparing some lessons from pages 
over which I could sprawl my fingers and gather the 
material for a theme or an examination. 

As I look back upon it, it seems to me that, my 
own special difficulties aside, we were all in too much 
of a hurry. It was like rushing through Europe on a 
summer holiday. I caught only fleeting gleams of 
the blaze and glory of Elizabethan literature, the 
satire and the wit of Swift, Johnson, and Goldsmith, 
and the splendour of the Nineteenth Century poets 
as they poured out their exuberant messages of 


spiritual power, cheer, and courage from nature, 
from men, and from the Divine Life breathing 
through all things. But in the harvest of my later 
years it is a delight to remember those v^andlike 
touches of fancy, w^isdom, and imagination by which 
my soul was set aflame 1 

The noble men and women of history and poetry 
moved and breathed before me vividly on the pic- 
ture screen of time. Generals, kings, and Holy Al- 
liances did not concern me much; I could not see 
what good could result from the ruthless destruction 
wrought by the Alexanders, Caesars, and Napoleons, 
but my imagination glowed as I beheld Socrates 
fearlessly teaching the youth of Athens the truth and 
drinking the fatal cup rather than surrender. Colum- 
bus's sublime perseverance as he sailed chartless seas 
with an unfriendly crew quickened my sense of ad- 
venture in exploring and perhaps mapping a dark, 
soundless world. I had always loved Joan of Arc 
with a tender reverence, and her beautiful, tragic 
figure in Schiller's play, in English and French his- 
tory, and in essays by men of widely different tem- 
peraments, her simple wisdom that cut through all 
entangling arguments, her undaunted faith in the 
midst of betrayal and cruelty, revealed to me new 
heights and glories of womanhood. She has remained 
very close to me — "One of the few whom God 
whispers in the ear." 


With many an amazing scene the vast drama of 
the ages unfolded before me— empires rising and 
falling, old arts giving way to new ones, races 
strangely fused out of the fragments of ancient peo- 
ples, heroic doers and thinkers pouring life and en- 
ergy into the Dark Ages, scholars defying church 
and state, taking the wanderer's staff in hand, suffer- 
ing and perishing that paths might be cleared to 
higher goals of truth. Fascinated, I watched how 
new ideas appeared, waxed great, and waned. I 
lost all sense of stability in earthly things, but I 
was reassured by the thought that the mind of man 
that unmakes what is made can also withdraw into 
itself and find peace. This resource was the elixir 
vitae I gained from another study that I took up 
at Radcliffe College, philosophy. 

I was so happily at home in philosophy, it alone 
would have rendered those four difficult years worth 
while. As a spring rain makes the fields greener, so 
my inner world grew fair beneath the shower of new 
ideas that fell from the magic words of the sages! I 
had faith and imagination; but philosophy taught 
me how to keep on guard against the misconceptions 
which spring from the limited experience of one 
who lives in a world without colour and without 
sound. I gained strength for my groping belief from 
thinkers who saw with their eyes, heard with their 
earSj touched with their hands and perceived the 


untrustworthiness of the senses even in the best 
equipped human being. Socrates's discourses on 
knowledge, friendship, and immortality I found in- 
tensely absorbing and stimulating, so full were they 
of truth and poetry in declaring that the real world 
exists only for the mind. Plato made me happily 
aware of an inner faculty — an "Absolute" which 
gives beauty to the beautiful, music to the musical, 
and truth to what we call true, and thus creates 
order and light and sound within us, no matter what 
calamity may afflict us in the outer world. I was de- 
lighted to have my faith confirmed that I could go 
beyond the broken arc of my senses and behold the 
invisible in the fullness of light, and hear divine 
symphonies in silence. I had a joyous certainty that 
deafness and blindness were not an essential part of 
my existence, since they were not in any way a part 
of my immortal mind. 

But this idea was faith only until I came to 
Descartes's maxim, "I think, therefore I am." I 
realized, then, that my "absolute" was not merely a 
possession, but an instrument of happiness. I rose up 
actively on my little island of limitations and found 
other ways to bridge over the dark, silent void 
with concepts of a light-flooded, resonant universe. 
In other words, I used my inner senses with a 
stronger will to dominate the deaf, blind being grop- 
ing its way through a welter of objects, sensations, 


and fragmentary impressions. Before this, through 
some obtuseness I had failed to *'take hold" of 
the higher consciousness which enlarges life to in- 
finity. But those five direct, emphatic words, "I think, 
therefore I am," waked something in me that has 
never slept since. 

Kant and Emerson led me farther on the road to 
emancipation. I had often before felt bound by 
my lack of hearing and sight to such an extent that I 
doubted if I could ever have an adequate concep- 
tion of what others saw and heard. My crippled 
senses and I seemed at times to be one and insepa- 
rable, and I could not see clearly how my ideas or 
testimony of things I touched could be taken 
seriously. I was told that nine tenths of the human 
being's impressions came to him through his eyes and 
ears, and I wondered if my friends and I would ever 
be able to understand each other. However lovingly 
our hearts might meet, there appeared to be an im- 
passable gulf between us. The crowded experience of 
our so-different lives obstructed many of the natural 
channels of understanding. I thought I must seem 
almost like a ghost to the strong, confident senses that 
ruled the world, but when I penetrated into the im- 
material realm which is the world of philosophy, I 
gained a cheerful, reconciling view of our situa- 
tions. I apprehended the truth of what Kant said, 
that sensations without concepts are barren, and 


concepts without sensations are empty. I put more 
thought and feeling into my senses ; I examined as I 
had not before my impressions arising from touch 
and smell, and was amazed at the ideas with 
which they supplied me, and the clues they gave me 
to the world of sight and hearing. For example, I 
observed the kinds and degrees of fragrance which 
gave me pleasure, and that enabled me to imagine 
how the seeing eye is charmed by different colours 
and their shades. Then I traced the analogies be- 
tween the illumination of thought and the light of 
day, and perceived more clearly than I ever had the 
preciousness of light in the life of the human being. 
This way of thinking helped me later when critics 
of my writings asked, "But how can she know about 
life?" . . . "How can she know what it means 
to an adult person to lose his sight, and what kind 
of help he especially needs when she has not had his 
special experiences?" . . . "What right has she to 
write about landscapes she can't see?" and other 
questions that showed how little they knew of the 
foundations upon which I was building up closer 
associations with normal people. 

Another shower of thoughts that refreshed my 
life-garden fell when I read in Kant that time and 
space are not fixed, immutable elements, but change- 
able ways of experiencing life. Like most people I 
had felt the spell of the senses to such a degree that 


the walls of time and space seemed very solid and 
inescapable, and that made it harder for me to sit 
still and wait when I wanted to be up and getting 
somewhere. But when I found that I could over- 
leap time and space, crowd years of remembrance 
into an hour, or lengthen an hour into eternity, I saw 
my true self as a free spirit throwing into the winds 
the bonds of body and condition and matter. With 
Emerson I read a great poem or listened to a sub- 
lime utterance, or held the perfection of a flower in 
my hand, and instantly I was over the walls of mortal 
life, speeding through the uplands of boundless 
beauty. It was in the joy of these new thoughts that 
I wrote Optimism and The World I Live In. 
For it was Emerson who revealed to me the romance 
in Kant's abstract words, and made it easier for me 
afterwards to read Swedenborg's discourses on time 
and space. I did not then know the importance of 
philosophy as a star in lonely hours and dark pas- 
sages of my life ; and now it is a delight to recall how 
many times it has kept me happy in the face of per- 
plexing questions about my little world, and how 
often it has made as my own the pleasure of another 
in wonders beyond the reach of my two sealed senses! 

It was a disappointment to me that I did not have 
closer contact with my professors. Most of them 
seemed as impersonal as victrolas. I never met Dean 


Briggs, although I lived next door to him, nor did 
I ever meet Dr. Eliot. He signed my diploma, but 
so far as I know, this was the extent of his interest in 

Among the four or five members of the faculty 
who took a personal interest in me were Professor 
Bartlett, who taught German, Dr. William Allan 
Neilson, who is now President of Smith College, 
Professor Royce, and Professor Charles T. Cope- 
land. My teacher and I saw much of Dr. Neilson 
outside the college. He and his sweet sister invited 
us to tea sometimes, and their friendliness to us both 
was delightful. Dr. Neilson is a charming Scot with 
an irrepressible sense of humour and a spirited way 
of lecturing on the glories of Elizabethan literature. 
He was the only professor who learned the manual 
alphabet so that he might talk with me. I have not 
seen him as much as I would like in recent years, 
but his friendship has continued to this day. 

Mr. Copeland was not a professor when I was 
at Radcliffe, but he was a great force. His power lay, 
I think, in an elusive charm difficult to put into 
words — the charm of a unique personality. They told 
me his voice was capable of conveying poignant emo- 
tion. I could follow it in the ebb and flow of my 
teacher's fingers. I never knew any one who could 
by a mere word or phrase express so much. His way 
of talking was often Carlylesque, and his wit was 


incisive. But even when he read our trivial themes 
and unimportant opinions there was a kindly toler- 
ance beneath his whimsical mannerisms. He greatly 
lightened the dark ways of my understanding of 
composition, and his words of praise are among the 
most precious encouragements I have ever had in 
my work. 

Professor Royce was so unfailingly detached that 
he seemed more like a statue of Buddha than a 
human being, but his serene nature, the kindness of 
his greetings, and the nobility of his social ideas, 
which he afterwards embodied in his book. The 
Philosophy of Loyalty, make me wish I might have 
known him better. 

I enjoyed the history course under Professor 
Archibald Gary Coolidge, but I never talked with 
him. He was singularly shy. Once when I wanted 
to ask him a question Miss Sullivan stopped him just 
as he was leaving his desk. He was so frightened that 
she had to repeat the question twice. His answer was 
utterly incoherent, and he rushed out of the room 
as soon as he had given it. To me he never seemed 
a personality. His words came as out of a book read 
aloud, but few of my professors were so enlightening. 
After my undergraduate days he served on several 
missions — the American Peace Delegation, the 
American Economic Mission, and the American Re- 
lief Administration in Russia in 192 1. It is no exag- 


geration to say that he outshone many of his more 
talked of compatriots. 

The barrier of my physical handicap lay between 
me and my classmates. Only one of them learned to 
talk with me on her fingers, but they had many 
charming ways of showing their friendliness. At 
Mrs. Hogan's lunch room, where we ate sandwiches 
and chocolate eclairs they gathered around me and 
Miss Sullivan spelled their bright chatter into my 
hand. The girls made me vice-president of our class. 
If my work had not been so strenuous I should prob- 
ably not have missed so much of the lighter side of 
the college life. 

One of my classmates. Bertha Meckstroth, learned 
to write braille, and in her free moments copied 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Por- 
tuguese for me. This was just before I graduated, 
and I never saw or heard from her afterwards. But I 
treasure the lovely deed as a precious memento of 
my college days. 

Another episode I like to recall was a surprise 
my class planned for me. One day several girls in- 
vited me to go with them to see some jolly friends 
in Brookline. That was all they would tell me, and 
when we reached our destination, they were very 
mysterious. I began to sniff, and in a moment I 
realized that instead of a human habitation we were 


entering a kennel, the abode of many Boston terriers. 
The dogs gave us a royal welcome, and one ugly 
beauty, heir of a noble pedigree, with the title of Sir 
Thomas Belvedere, bestowed upon me his special 
favour, planting himself resolutely at my feet, pro- 
testing with his whole body if I touched any other 
dog. The girls asked me if I liked him. I said I 
adored him. 

*Take him home then," they said. ^'He is our gift 
to you." 

Sir Thomas seemed to understand; for he began 
spinning round and round me like a top. When he 
had quieted down a little I told him I did not care 
much for titles. He assured me that he had no ob- 
jection to changing his name, and when I told him 
that I was going to call him Phiz he rolled over 
thrice by way of showing his approval. So we car- 
ried him happily back with us to Cambridge. 

We were living at that time at 14 Coolidge Avenue, 
in part of a house which had once been a fine man- 
sion. It was picturesquely situated on a knoll, almost 
hidden by great trees, facing Mt. Auburn Street, 
and so far back that the trolley cars and traffic never 
disturbed us. The home of James Russell Lowell was 
near by. Dear Bridget kept house for us and was 
always there to open the door and bid us welcome. 

The land behind was utilized by a florist to raise 
several crops of flowers in the season — pansies, mar- 


guerites, geraniums, and carnations. The fragrance 
was heavenly, and when Italian women and chil- 
dren in bright-coloured dresses and shawls came 
to pick the flowers for the market, and waked 
us with their laughter and song it was Uke being in 
an Italian village. What an unusual scene it was in 
the heart of a busy city — women with their arms full 
of carnations — not mere pictures, but live women 
with the fresh colour of country life in their cheeks 
and large dark eyes and coils of black hair — and 
children carrying baskets of bright geraniums and 
chattering like birds — their happy voices and expres- 
sive gestures, and the whiffs of sweetness from the 
many flowers 1 

While we were in Cambridge we made the ac- 
quaintance of a number of students and young in- 
structors at Harvard. Some of them learned the 
manual alphabet, which made real companionship 
possible, and we had no end of delightful times to- 
gether. Among them was Philip Sidney Smith, who 
is now Chief Alaskan Geologist of the National 
Geological Survey in Washington. His wife, Lenore, 
was one of our most staunch friends, and she helped 
me in my studies or went with me to the lectures 
when Miss Sullivan was ill or tired. Then there 
was John Macy, who afterwards married my teacher, 


and whose name remains forever a part of all that is 
most precious in our lives. 

What zest v^e had for life in those days! We 
thought nothing of a ten mile tramp over country 
roads or a forty mile ride on our tandems. Every- 
thing interested us — the autumn v^oods bright v^ith 
jewelled leaves and sparkling sunlight, the migrat- 
ing birds, the squirrels gathering their winter stores, 
the wild apple trees raining their fruit upon our 
heads, the Medford marshes spangled with sapphire 
pools and red cat-tails. 

But my memories are not all of summer weather, 
with the odours of meadow, field, and orchard float- 
ing out to us on balmy breezes. Winter, too, brought 
its delights. On clear nights we used to go sleighing 
in Shay's express wagon which had been put on run- 
ners and filled with sweet-smelling hay. Patrick held 
the prancing horses until we climbed in, but no 
sooner were we seated than they sprang forward, 
and we sped away, to the music of the sleigh bells, to 
a universe of snow and stars! 

And the homecoming! How inviting was the cosy 
warmth that breathed in our faces as dear Bridget 
opened the door for us, her sweet, patient face alight 
with welcome! How good the smell of coffee and 
muffins! How jolly the confusion of rushing about 
and putting the supper on the table, everyone getting 


in Bridget's way. But she only smiled the more, 
happy in our youth. I cannot think of Cambridge 
without thinking of Bridget's continual bestowal of 
herself in loving service to my teacher and me. 

Many times during the long winter evenings we 
sat around an open fire with a circle of eager, im- 
aginative students, drinking cider, popping corn, and 
joyously tearing to pieces society, philosophies, re- 
ligions, and literatures. We stripped everything to 
the naked skeleton. Fortunately, the victims of our 
superior criticism were unaware of our scorn and 
even of our existence. We did not proclaim our 
opinions to the dull world, but enjoyed them the 
more keenly within the seclusion of our little circle. 
We were passionately independent. All of us were 
individualists, yet all of us responded to the altruistic 
movements of the time. We believed in the rising 
tide of the masses, in peace, and brotherhood, and "a 
square deal" for everybody. Each one of us had an 
idol around whom our theories revolved like planets 
around the sun. These idols had familiar names- 
Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Karl Marx, Bergson, 
Lincoln, Tolstoi, and Max Stirner. We read Shelley, 
Whitman, and Swinburne. The more we read and 
discussed, the more convinced we were that we be- 
longed to that choice coterie who rise in each age, 
and manage to attain freedom of thought. We felt 
that undoubtedly we were a group of modern pio- 


neers who had risen above our materialistic sur- 
roundings. Despite a dismal dearth of inspiration, 
we succeeded in living a life rich in thought and 
spiritual experience. From our lofty, lonely heights 
we looked down upon our fellow students with pity 
akin to that which the angels feel for mortals. What 
a wealth of wit and wisdom we lavished upon each 
other! And the endless discussions that darkened 
counsel! For each of us had a panacea to turn this 
barren world into a paradise, and each defended his 
special kingdom with argument flashed against 
argument in true duelling fashion. Nonchalantly we 
swept empires into the dust heap, and where they 
had flourished we, with astounding ease, established 
perfect democracies. In these democracies all the 
inhabitants were to display great eagerness to leave 
behind commonplace existence. Practical problems 
were left to take care of themselves — as they are 
in most Utopias. 

Oh, young days, young days, what are you saying 
to me out of the Long Ago? March winds off Fresh 
Pond, a hat gone to the fishes! April showers 
on the Concord road, two friends under one mackin- 
tosh! May days in the Middlesex Fells, following the 
delicate scent of the trailing arbutus! A hatless youth 
spelling his gay talk into eager hands, unmindful of 
wondering sedate folk taking their carriage exer- 
cise! It was a joy to feed the squirrels with nuts and 


sit by the roadside and count the birds. They do not 
seem to be so many now, and they do not sing as 
merrily as they did when Carl imitated their liquid 
notes for me. 

But I must move on. I must not appear to my 
reader an old woman living over again the events of 
her youth. 

There was another side to my experience in Rad- 
clifife College which I must present here if I am to 
remove some of the errors which have arisen with 
regard to my life in Cambridge and the details of my 
graduation. It has been said that praises and honours 
were showered upon Miss Sullivan and me by all 
who saw us grappling with our difficulties. I have 
before me a sympathetic article in French, which 
contains a description of the ceremony in which I 
received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. 

Une foule immense emplissait ce jour-la le theatre ou avait lieu 
la fete du College. Plusieurs autres etudiantes allaient aussi 
recevoir des diplomes, mais toutes les attentions, tous les regards, 
tous les coeurs etaient fixes sur la gracieuse jeune fille . . . qui se 
tenait au premier rang au milieu de scs compagnes. Miss Sullivan, 
assise a cote d'elle, partageait naturellement I'heure de son 
triomphe, comme elle avait partage les jours et les annees de son 
penible labeur . . . Lorsqu'on appela le nom d'Helen, maitrcssc 
et eleve, ou plutot mere et fille spirituelles, la main dans la main, 
monterent ensemble les degres de I'estrade. Au milieu de tonnerres 
d'applaudissements frenetiques qu'elle ne pouvait entendre, mais 



dont elle sentait resonner les echos, la jeune fille regut le precieux 
diplome portant cette mention speciale — "Non seulement a subi 
avec succes les examens de tous grades universitaires, mais excelle 
en litterature anglaise."* 

The words about my teacher are true. The best 
part of my success was having her by my side who 
had kept me steadfast to my purpose. But the rest of 
the account is the stuff that myths are made of. There 
were no huge crowds filling the hall that June after- 
noon. Only a few friends came especially to see me. 
My mother was prevented by illness from being with 
me on that occasion, and her disappointment was as 
bitter as my own. Dean Briggs delivered the usual 
commencement address, but he did not mention Miss 
Sullivan. In fact, none of the faculty spoke either to 
her or to me. When I received my diploma, I felt no 
^'thunder of wild applause." It was nothing like the 
imposing, brilliant ceremony which has been pictured 
in some accounts of my college days. Several of the 
students, when they took off their caps and gowns, 

*0n that day an immense crowd filled the auditorium where the 
commencement exercises were held. Other students were to receive 
diplomas but all attention, all looks, all hearts were fixed on the lovely 
young girl who held first rank among her companions. Miss Sullivan, 
seated beside her, naturally shared the hour of her triumph as she had 
shared the days and years of her strenuous labour. When the name 
of Helen was called, mistress and pupil, or rather spiritual mother and 
daughter, hand in hand, mounted the steps. In the midst of thunders of 
frantic applause which she could not hear but of which she felt the 
echo, the young girl received the precious diploma carrying this special 
mention: "Not only has she passed successfully the university examina- 
tions, but she excels in English literature." 


expressed indignation, and one sweet girl declared 
that Miss Sullivan should have received a degree, too. 
We had come in to our seats quietly that afternoon, 
and we went out as soon as we could, caught a street 
car and hastened away to the fragrant peace of the 
lovely New England village packed with summer 
time, where we were already settling down to live. 
That evening I was gliding out on Lake Wollomona- 
poag in a canoe with some friends, forgetting my 
weariness and the strange ways of the world in 
dreams of beauty, the odours which the breezes 
carried to me from unseen flowers, and starlit silence, 
and little green hills sloping down to the water. May 
it ever be thus, may I always return after the clamour 
and agitation of eventful days to the great kindliness 
of earth and sky and restful twilight! 

Chapter III 


The French article from which I have quoted says 
that I was given a home in Wrentham by the public, 
who wished to honour me as the ancients did when 
they bestowed upon a victorious general an estate 
where he could live and enjoy his laurels : 

Boston, la ville la plus intellectuelle I'Athenes des Etats 
Unis, a, au lendemain de ses examens offert cette maison en 
hommage a la jeune fille qui a remporte une victoire sans pareille 
de I'esprit sur la matiere, de lame immortelle sur les sens.* 

Others who have tried to describe the house with- 
out knowing it have added an extensive park and a 
wonderful garden. No such pomp and circumstance 
marked my triumphal entrance into the village of 
Wrentham. Miss Sullivan and I had already bought 
a small, old farmhouse, long and narrow, decidedly 
Puritanical in appearance, with a neglected field of 
seven acres. Miss Sullivan converted a dairy room 

*Boston, the most intellectual city, the Athens of the United States, 
had on the day after the examinations offered this house in homage to 
the young girl who had won a victory without parallel of the spirit over 
matter, the immortal soul over the sense. 



and two pantries into a study for me. The French 
article describes it as follows : 

Helen Keller passe la plupart de ses journees dans son elegant 
cabine de travail, orne de bronzes et d'objets d'art offerts pars ses 
adorateurs, et dont les murs disparaissent du haut en bas sous des 
centaines et des centaines de gros volumes au pages blanches 
couvertes de points en relief — ses chers livres in Braille.* 

As a matter of fact, the study was very simple. 
The only ''works of art" were a plaster Venus di Milo 
which my foster-father, Mr. John Hitz, had given me, 
a bas-relief medallion of Homer, a gift from Dr. 
Jastrow of the University of Wisconsin, and some 
curios sent to me by friends from foreign countries. 
Only one wall "disappeared" behind large volumes of 
braille, and that did not mean hundreds of books. In 
most cases there were three, four, or five big volumes 
to a book. They were few enough in comparison with 
what I wanted, but to any one as hungry for ideas as 
I was any bit of honest thinking was a treasure trove. 
The chief attractions of the study were sunshine, the 
big eastern window full of plants I tended, and a 
glass door through which I could step out into a 
cluster of pines and sit alone with my thoughts and 
my dreams. 

*Helen Keller passes the greater part of her days in her elegant 
workroom ornamented with bronzes and objets d'art presented by her 
admirers, with walls which from top to bottom disappear behind hun- 
dreds and hundreds of huge volumes with white pages covered with 
points in relief — her dear books in braille. 


Miss Sullivan had a balcony built for me which 
opened out of my bedroom so that I could walk 
whenever I wanted to. The evergreens came so close 
to the railing I could lean over and feel their rustling 
music. It was on this balcony that I once "heard" the 
love song of a whippoorwill. I had been walking up 
and down for an hour or more, pausing every now 
and then to breathe the scented air of May. At the 
south end I could reach out and touch a wisteria 
vine which clung to the rail with long, tenacious 
fingers. At the opposite end I faced the garden and 
the apple trees, which were in full bloom, and oh, 
so heavenly sweet! I was standing under the wisteria 
vine with my thoughts far away when suddenly the 
rail began to vibrate unfamiliarly under my hands. 
The pulsations were rhythmical, and repeated over 
and over, exactly as I have felt a note repeated when 
I have placed my fingers on a singer's throat. All at 
once they ceased, and I felt the wisteria blossom 
ticking against my cheek like the pendulum of a 
fairy clock. I guessed that a breeze or a bird was 
rocking the vine. Then the rail began vibrating again. 
A queer beat came always before the rhythmical 
beats, like nothing I had ever felt before. I did not 
dare move or call, but Miss Sullivan had heard the 
sound and put out her hand through the window and 
touched me very quietly. I knew I must not speak. 

She spelled, "That's a whippoorwill. He is stand- 


ing on the corner post so close to you I believe you 
could touch him; but you must not — he would fly 
away and never come back." 

Now that I knew he was saying ^'Whip-poor-will! 
Whip-poor-will" over and over I could follow the 
intonations exactly. The singing seemed joyous to 
my touch, and I could feel the notes grow louder and 
louder, faster and faster. 

Miss Sullivan touched me again and spelled, "His 
lady-love is answering him from the apple trees. 
Apparently, she has been there all the time, hiding. 
Now they are singing a duet." 

When the rail stopped vibrating she spelled, "They 
are both in the apple tree now singing under billows 
of pink and white blossoms." 

We paid for this house in Wrentham and the 
alterations by selling some shares of sugar stock 
which Mr. J. P. Spaulding of Boston had given us 
about ten years before. I feel moved to say something 
here about one who took the most generous interest 
in us both at a time when we needed a strong friend. 

I was nine years old, I think, when Elsie Leslie 
Lyde, the beautiful child actress who played "Little 
Lord Fauntleroy," introduced us to Mr. Spaulding. 
He was so tender and understanding, he won me at 
once, and from that day he was eager to do anything 
for our comfort or pleasure. He liked to come to the 
Perkins Institution when we stayed there, and join 


in our midday meal. He always brought a big box 
of roses, or fruits or candies. He took us for long 
drives, and Elsie accompanied us when she was not 
appearing at the theatre. She was a lovely, vivacious 
child, and Mr. Spaulding beamed with delight to 
see '^his two darlings together." I was just learning 
to speak, and it distressed him very much because 
he could not understand what I said. I practised 
saying ''Elsie Leslie Lyde" one day, and kept on 
until I cried; but I wanted Mr. Spaulding to hear 
me say it intelligibly, and I shall never forget his 
joy when I succeeded. Whenever I failed to articu- 
late well, or there was too much noise for him to hear 
me, he would hug me and say, "If I can't understand 
you, I can always love you," and I know he did with 
a deep affection. Indeed, he was beloved by many 
people in every walk of life. Elsie called him "King 
John," and he was a king in spirit, royal and noble 
of heart. 

Mr. Spaulding assisted my teacher and me finan- 
cially for a number of years. He told us many times 
that he would provide for our future. But he died 
. without making any provision for us in his will, and / 
his heirs refused to continue the help he had given 
us. Indeed, one of his nephews said that we had taken 
advantage of his uncle when he was not in a condition 
to know his own mind ! 

I see I have again wandered far afield; but I 


could not patss over in silence a rare and beautiful 
generosity which imposed no obligations upon us, 
nor asked anything in return, except the satisfaction 
of having us happy. 

Somehow Mr. Spaulding seemed very near indeed 
when we threw open the doors and windows of our 
home — the first home of our own — to the June sun- 
shine and started our new life full of bright hopes 
for the future. 

On May 2, 1905, the year after my graduation, my 
teacher married John Macy. She had devoted the 
best years of her womanhood to me, and I had often 
longed to see her blessed with a good man's love ; I 
felt the tenderest joy in their union. Dr. Edward 
Everett Hale, one of our oldest and closest friends, 
performed the ceremony in the sunny, flower-filled 
sitting room of our white farmhouse, and I stood 
beside my teacher. Lenore spelled the ceremony 
into my hand. My mother and a few close friends 
were present. Then Mr. and Mrs. Macy left for 
their wedding trip to New Orleans, and I went south 
with my mother for a visit. A few days later we were 
delightfully surprised to see Mr. and Mrs. Macy 
walking into the house! My cup ran over! It seemed 
like a dream, having them with me, revelling in the 
beauty of early summer in the Southland. The air 
was laden with the odour of magnolias, and they 


kept saying how heavenly the song of the mocking 
birds was — they called it their wedding music. When 
we were all back in Wrentham, I heard that several 
people thought I was jealous and unhappy, and one 
letter of condolence was actually inflicted upon me! 

I wish I could engrave upon these pages the pic- 
ture in my fingers that I cherish of those two friends 
— my teacher with her queenly mind and heart, 
strong and true, going direct to the core of the subject 
under discussion, her delight in beauty, her enthu- 
siasm for large service and heroic qualities; her 
husband with his brotherly tenderness, his fine sensi- 
bilities, his keen sense of humour, and his curious 
combination of judicial severity and smiling toler- 
ance. Since I was out of active life, they both strove 
to keep my narrow round pleasant and interesting. 
Both had a magical way of breaking up the monotony 
for me with bright comments and rapid, frequent 
reports of what I could not see or hear. And such a 
difference as there was in the way each talked! My 
teacher's comments on scenes and news and people 
were like nuggets of gold, lavishly spilled into my 
hands, while her husband put his words together 
carefully, almost as if he were writing a novel. He 
often said he wanted to write a novel, and certainly 
there was material for one in his brilliant conversa- 
tion. His hands were seldom still, and even when he 
was not spelling to me I could tell by his gestures 


whether he was arguing or joking or simply carry- 
ing on an ordinary conversation. 

I cannot enumerate the helpful kindnesses with 
which he smoothed my rugged paths of endeavour. 
Once, when my typewriter was out of order, and I 
was tired with the manual labour of copying, he sat 
up all night, and typed forty pages of my manuscript, 
so that they might reach the press in time. 

Next to my teacher, he was the friend who dis- 
covered most ways to give me pleasure and gratify 
my intellectual curiosity. He kept me faithfully in 
touch with the chief happenings of the day, the dis- 
coveries of science, and the new trends in literature. 
If he was particularly pleased with a book, he would 
have Mr. John Hitz put it into braille for me, or 
he would read it to me himself when he had time. 

Not long after we moved to Wrentham Mr. Gilder 
asked me to write a series of essays for the Century 
about my ideas of the world around me. The essays 
appeared in the magazine under the title, "Sense and 
Sensibility," but as Jane Austen had used that title 
for one of her books, I called them the The World I 
Live In when they came out in book form. I do not 
remember writing anything in such a happy mood 
as The World I Live In, I poured into it everything 
that interested me at one of the happiest periods of 
life — my newly discovered wealth of philosophy 


and the feeling of the New England beauty which 
surrounded me. I had always revelled in the won- 
ders of nature; but I had not dreamed what abun- 
dance of physical enjoyment I possessed until I sat 
down and tried to express in words the lacy shadows 
of little leaves, the filmy wings of insects, the murmur 
of breezes, the tremulous flutter of flowers, the soft- 
breathing breast of a dove, filaments of sound in the 
waving grass, and gossamer threads intertwining and 
unreeling themselves endlessly. 

The next book I wrote was The Song of the Stone 
Wall, The idea of writing it came to me with the joy 
of spring while we were building up the old walls in 
our green field. In it I tried to image the men who 
had built the walls long ago. I dedicated the book to 
Dr. Edward Everett Hale because he, too, loved the 
old walls and the traditions that cling about them. 
Moreover, the zeal of the men who built them was 
upon his lips and their courage in his heart. 

While I was writing these books Mr. Macy was 
always near by to help me. He criticized me severely 
when my work did not please him, and his praise 
was sweet when I wrote something he liked. We read 
the pages over and over, weeding out the chaff, until 
he thought I had done my best. 'When one's best 
is not satisfactory," he would say, "there is nothing 
to do about it." 

He had the art of pulling me out of a solemn or 


discouraged mood with laughter that leaves the 
heart light and soothes the ruffled mind. I used to 
love to ramble or drive with him along the winding 
roads of Wrentham. With a gesture of delight he 
would point out a pond smiling like a babe on earth's 
breast, or a gorgeous bird on the wing, or a field full 
of sunshine and ripening corn, or we would sit to- 
gether under the Great Oak on the edge of Lake 
Wollomonapoag while he read to me from one of 
Thoreau's bopks. There are no words to tell how 
dear he was to me or how much I loved him. Little 
incidents hardly noticed at the time but poignantly 
remembered afterwards crowd upon me as I write. 
On a still summer evening or by a winter fire, my 
thoughts still wander back to those days and dwell 
with sweet longing on the affection of those two 
friends sitting beside me in the library, their hands in 
mine, dreaming of a bright future of mutual helpful- 
ness. I can never quite accustom myself to the be- 
wildering vicissitudes of life, but, despite the shadows 
upon it, both my teacher and I feel that all that was 
loveliest in the Wrentham days is ours forever. 

When we went to Wrentham to live I had in my 
mind a vision of a real farm, like my father's in 
Tuscumbia, Alabama, where I could live in the 
midst of the strong, abiding simplicity of homely 
things among trees and crops and animals. 

Miss Keller s home at Wrentham. Ahovey the entrance, 
showing the stone wall which Miss Keller helped build. 


The only animal we owned was Phiz, whom wc 
carried with us from Cambridge. He died a year 
after we moved to Wrentham. We buried him at 
the end of the field under a beautiful white pine 
tree. I grieved for him a long time, and resolved 
never to have another dog. But everybody knows 
how, in the course of time, the proverbial other 
dog arrives. Kaiser was his name. He was a sturdy 
French bull terrier. A friend of Mr. Macy's 
presented him to the family. Having lived all 
the days of his three years with a man. Kaiser was at 
first inclined to assume a supercilious attitude to- 
wards women folk. He pondered over what we said 
to him, and usually decided that it might be ignored. 
We undertook to teach him he must obey in order 
to eat. But he found out quickly that apples could 
be used as a substitute for meat and bread. He learned 
to hold an apple between his paws and eat it with a 
good deal of gusto. But when he fully made up his 
mind that he could not maintain the fallacy of mascu- 
line superiority in an establishment where the femi- 
nine forces outnumbered the males three to one, he 
surrendered all the major points, also his pretence 
that he had a special fondness for apples, though to 
the end he retained a certain masculine swagger 
which was not unbecoming. 

There is not much to tell about Kaiser. His 
fate confirms the story of modern civilization. He 


found food abundant and obtainable without 
exertion; therefore he took advantage of every op- 
portunity to gourmandize. Both dogs and human 
beings find this a pleasant pastime, but they must 
make up their minds that sooner or later they will 
die of it. 

A similar fate overtook some Rhode Island Reds, 
which we bought from Mr. Dilley, our next door 
neighbour, who was a bird fancier. I fed them my- 
self, and they soon became very tame. It was fun to 
watch them, but after a while I noticed that they sat 
down to their meals, and it was very hard to get 
them to move about. Our neighbour was called to 
give advice. He declared that I had overfed them to 
such an extent that he doubted if Mr. Pierce, our 
marketman, would take them. I was so disappointed 
with the little gourmands I gave up the idea of ever 
trying to raise chickens again. 

But it seemed a shame to waste the enclosure we 
had put up with so much trouble and expense. So 
we bought Thora, a beautiful brindle Dane. I knew 
it would be easier to raise puppies; and anyway I 
loved dogs better than chickens. In due time Thora's 
eleven puppies arrived. Of course I had not dreamed 
that there would be so many, or that they would be 
so mischievous. 

I have not space to give a detailed account of the 


upbringing of that family of Dane puppies. They 
were as temperamental as poets and musicians are 
supposed to be. There was one everybody singled out 
as the gem of the clan. We called her Sieglinde and 
lavished special care and affection upon her. Her 
colour was red gold, and her head was moulded on 
noble lines. Of all the dogs we have ever owned she 
was the most beautiful and intelligent, and I am not 
belittling my splendid Danish baron, Hans, nor my 
fascinating, perverse Scotch lassie. Darky, who are 
clamouring at the door of my study as I write. 

In the meantime there was the barn — a fine, large 
barn with no living creature in it. It did not seem 
right that there should be no livestock to enjoy it. 
We began to read the advertisements in the Boston 
Transcript, We were surprised to find how many 
fine animals were without a comfortable home. The 
tears actually came to my eyes when I heard of a 
lady who was going abroad, and must leave her noble 
Great Dane to the mercy of strangers. She said that 
if some one who loved animals would only give 
Nimrod a home, she would part with him for seventy- 
five dollars, which was like giving him away. We 
wrote the lady that we should be glad to take Nim- 
rod. It was arranged that Mr. Macy should meet her 
and Nimrod at the North Station in Boston. Mrs. 
Macy and I waited at home. 


I have never seen such a huge dog. He was more 
like a young elephant than a dog. Mr. Macy insisted 
that he should be left out on the porch until we found 
out what his upbringing had been, but we could not 
think of such inhospitality to a stranger within our 
gates. The door was flung open, and Nimrod was 
invited to enter. There was a small table with a lamp 
on it near the door. In passing it, he knocked it over. 
Fortunately the lamp was not lighted — in those days 
we used kerosene — or I suppose the house would 
have been burned. As it was, the crash frightened the 
poor dog, so that he charged into the dining room, 
knocking Mr. Macy's supper off and the dishes all 
over the room. With great difficulty Mr. Macy suc- 
ceeded in getting the terrified creature out to the barn. 
Family relations were somewhat strained that eve- 
ning, and I did not learn much of what happened, 
except that the conductor on two trains had refused 
to let Nimrod on, and that he had caused a stam- 
pede in the waiting room of the station. 

Thora would have nothing to do with him. She 
even growled at him when he tried to make friends 
with the puppies. Out in the field Nimrod seemed 
contented to be by himself; but somebody noticed 
that he was eating stones. There were too many 
stones in the field. Our distress was not caused by 
any regret over their disappearance, but we were 
concerned about Nimrod's digestion. We sent for 


our neighbour, Dr. Brastow, the state veterinarian. 
He controlled his feelings wonderfully when he gave 
us the report of his diagnosis. 

"The dog," he said, "is about fourteen years old. 
He has no teeth, and very little sight. Probably he 
thinks the stones are bones. His former owner was, 
no doubt, too tender-hearted to have him put to 
sleep." However, we thought our friend rather heart- 
less when he proposed to do forthwith that which 
had been left undone. Still it seemed best. 

It was some time before we began to read the ad- 
vertisements in the Transcript again. But inevitably 
history repeats itself. We had a marvellous, versatile 
gift of forgetting previous unfortunate ventures and 
joyously entering upon new ones. There is nothing 
to be said in favour of this gift, except that it lends 
spice to life. The day came when we felt that we 
must have a horse, and that very day we read a 
column of advertisements of wonderful horses which 
could be purchased for half or a third of what they 
would naturally sell for; but their owners were in 
various difficulties, and wanted to part with them for 
stated amounts. The horse we decided to buy was 
described as a spirited dark bay; weight, 11 50 
pounds; age, six years; gentle, fearless, broken to 
saddle, suitable for a lady to drive or ride. 

We three innocents went to Boston to see the 
horse. The stable man said the owner was out of 


town, but he showed us the horse, and certainly the 
animal was a beauty. His coat was as smooth as satin 
and he held his head so high I could scarcely reach 
his ears. One of his feet was white, and there and 
then, with several endearing pats and caresses, I 
christened him Whitefoot. We paid for him on the 
spot, and it was arranged that a boy should ride him 
out to Wrentham. We learned afterwards that 
Whitefoot had thrown the boy three times on the 
way ; but he never said a word to us. The next morn- 
ing Mr. Macy hitched the horse to a light Democrat 
wagon we had, and started for the village. He had 
not got out of the driveway when Whitefoot began 
to give trouble. Mr. Macy jumped out to see if 
there was anything wrong with the harness. At that 
moment the Foxboro car passed the gate. The 
horse reared, and dashed across the lawn and out 
through the neighbour's gate. The wagon caught on 
a stone post and was smashed to kindling. Two days 
later a country man brought the horse home. He had 
found him in a wood road with scraps of harness 
still hanging to him. 

We finally sold Whitefoot to a man in Attleboro 
who claimed to be a horse tamer. We learned a year 
or so later that Whitefoot had been the cause of the 
death of a cabman, and was pronounced crazy by the 
state veterinarian and shot. 

It was a long time before we summoned up cour- 


age to try our luck with horses again. But we finally 
succeeded in getting what we wanted. King was an 
English-bred cob, a rich bay in colour. We used 
to say that he stepped as Queen Elizabeth danced, 
''high and disposedly." He was a horse tempered 
Uke finest steel — strong, patient, good-natured with 
common sense — the kind of horse erratic drivers 
should prize above pearls and rubies. 

Our various enterprises with livestock having not 
only failed, but plunged us into deeper financial 
tribulations, we were advised to plant an apple 
orchard. This seemed just the thing. We bought a 
hundred choice three year nurslings and planted 
them according to the rules sent out by the United 
States Department of Agriculture. They prospered. 
The fifth year we were delighted to find a few apples 
on them. I knew how many apples each tree had, 
and almost daily I made a note of their size. The 
apple orchard was such a comfort to us that we 
were annoyed with ourselves for not having thought 
of it in the beginning. 

All went well until one fateful summer afternoon 
when Ian Bittman, our Russian man of all work, 
came rushing up to my study where Mrs. Macy and 
I were reading. "Look! look! look, Madam! See, the 
wild cow have come," he cried. 

We ran to the window, and in great excitement 
Ian pointed out five wonderful creatures disporting 


themselves through the orchard. Mrs. Macy could 
scarcely believe her eyes — they were v^ild deer — a 
great antlered buck, a doe, and three half-grown 
fawns ! They were beautiful in the afternoon sunlight, 
skipping from tree to tree and stripping the bark with 
their teeth. Indeed, they were so graceful and lovely, 
it did not occur to one of us to chase them out of 
the orchard. We stood there fascinated until they 
had destroyed nearly every tree before we realized 
what had happened. That year Massachusetts paid 
thousands of dollars to farmers for the losses they 
had sustained from marauding deer. It never oc- 
curred to us to send the state a bill for our apple trees. 
The last time I visited the old place, I saw perhaps 
half a dozen of the trees we had planted, and which 
had escaped the sharp teeth of the invaders, grown 
to a goodly size, and bearing fruit each year. 

I used to stay out of doors as much as possible and 
watch that most delightful form of progress — the 
preparation of the old garden for young plants, and 
the new vegetation which spread over it more and 
more. I found paths I could follow in my daily walk 
through the field, and explored the wood at the end 
of it which was to be the retreat of my happiest hours. 
All this was most pleasant to live through, but not 
much to write about. However, it indicates the sort of 
material I have for an autobiography. I have no 
great adventures to record, no thrilling romances, no 


extraordinary successes. This book contains simply 
the impressions and feelings which have passed 
through my mind. But perhaps, after all, our emo- 
tions and sensations are what are most worth relating, 
since they are our real selves. 

As the seasons came round, I would run out to 
gather armfuls of flowers, or watch trees being 
pruned, or help bring in wood. There were some 
big elms and apple trees which Mr. Macy used to 
look after with pride, and they responded beauti- 
fully to his care. Every autumn I would put up a 
ladder against one of the ancient apple trees, climb 
as high as I could, hold to a branch, and shake down 
the rosy, fragrant fruit. Then I would descend, pick 
up the apples, and fill barrels with them for the 
winter. Those were delicious hours when my soul 
seemed to cast aside its earthly vesture, glide into the 
boughs and sing like the birds about me. I also 
walked a great deal. By following the wire which 
Mr. Macy had stretched along the field, I easily 
found my way to a pine wood, where I could sit and 
dream, or wander from tree to tree. In summer there 
were tall, bright grasses, timothy, and wonderful 
goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace. Altogether, it was 
the longest and most free walk — about a quarter of 
a mile — that I ever had by myself. These details may 
seem trivial, but without this bit of freedom and 
sunny solitude I could not have endured the exact- 


ing nature of my daily work. Occasionally some one 
took me for a "spin" on my tandem bicycle. There 
were long, delightful rides on the trolley cars 
through the New England woods. I remember with 
pleasure that no odour of gasoline marred the purity 
of the air. 

As I look back, everything seems to have moved 
with the slowness of a woodland stream — no auto- 
mobiles or aeroplanes or radios, no revolutions, no 
world wars. Such was our life in Wrentham, or 
something like it, between 1905 and 191 1. For it 
seems so far away, I sometimes feel as if it were a 
sort of preexistence — a dream of days when I wore 
another body and had a different consciousness. Yet 
I see it clear enough, all the more vivid because it 
was free from the external distractions which keep 
one's thoughts occupied with trivial things and leave 
no leisure for the soul to develop. Where gayety was 
infrequent, the simplest amusements had the perfume 
of heavenly joy. Where the surroundings were rural, 
and life monotonous, any beam that shone upon them 
was precious. Any flower discovered among the rocks 
and crannies or beside the brook had the rareness of 
a star. Small events were full of poetry, and the glory 
of the spirit lay over all. 

Chapter IV 


One of the most memorable events of our Wrent- 
ham years was our visit to Mark Twain. 

My memory of Mr. Clemens runs back to 1894, 
when he was vigorous, before the shadows began to 
gather. Such was the affection he inspired in my 
young heart that my love for him has deepened with 
the years. More than anyone else I have ever known 
except Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and my teacher, 
he aroused in me the feeling of mingled tenderness 
and awe. I saw him many times at my friend Mr. 
Lawrence Hutton's in New York, and later in 
Princeton, also at Mr. H. H. Rogers's and at his own 
home at 21 Fifth Avenue, and last of all at Storm- 
field, Connecticut. Now and then I received letters 
from him. We were both too busy to write often, but 
whenever events of importance in our lives occurred 
we wrote to each other about them. 

I was fourteen years old when I first met Mr. 
Clemens — one Sunday afternoon when Miss Sullivan 
and I were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence 
Hutton in New York. t)uring the afternoon several 
celebrities dropped in, and among them Mr. 



Clemens. The instant I clasped his hand in mine, I 
knew that he was my friend. He made me laugh and 
feel thoroughly happy by telling some good stories, 
which I read from his lips. I have forgotten a great 
deal more than I remember, but I shall never for- 
get how tender he was. 

He knew with keen and sure intuition many things 
about me and how it felt to be blind and not to keep 
up with the swift ones — things that others learned 
slowly or not at all. He never embarrassed me by 
saying how terrible it is not to see, or how dull life 
must be, lived always in the dark. He wove about 
my dark walls romance and adventure, which made 
me feel happy and important. Once when Peter 
Dunne, the irrepressible Mr. Dooley, exclaimed: 
"God, how dull it must be for her, every day the 
same and every night the same as the day," he said, 
"You're damned wrong there; blindness is an ex- 
citing business, I tell you ; if you don't believe it, get 
up some dark, night on the wrong side of your bed 
when the house is on fire and try to find the door." 

The next time I saw Mr. Clemens was in Prince- 
ton during a spring vacation when we were visiting 
the Huttons in their new home. We had many happy 
hours together at that time. 

One evening in the library he lectured to a dis- 
tinguished company — Woodrow Wilson was pres- 


ent — on the situation in the Philippines. We lis- 
tened breathlessly. He described how six hundred 
Moros — men, women, and children — had taken 
refuge in an extinct crater bowl near Jolo, where 
they were caught in a trap and murdered, by order 
of General Leonard Wood. A few days afterwards, 
Col. Funston captured the patriot Aguinaldo by dis- 
guising his military marauders in the uniform of the 
enemy and pretending to be friends of Aguinaldo's 
officers. Upon these military exploits, Mr. Clemens 
poured out a volcano of invective and ridicule. Only 
those who heard him can know his deep fervour and 
the potency of his flaming words. All his life he 
fought injustice wherever he saw it in the relations 
between man and man — in politics, in wars, in out- 
rages against the natives of the Philippines, the 
Congo, and Panama. I loved his views on public 
affairs, they were so often the same as my own. 

He thought he was a cynic, but his cynicism did 
not make him indifferent to the sight of cruelty, un- 
kindness, meanness, or pretentiousness. He would 
often say, "Helen, the world is full of unseeing eyes^ 
vacant, staring, soulless eyes." He would work him- 
self into a frenzy over dull acquiescence in any evil 
that could be remedied. True, sometimes it seemed 
as if he let loose all the artillery of Heaven against 
an intruding mouse but even then his "resplendent 


vocabulary" was a delight. Even when his ideas were 
quite wrong, they were expressed with such lucidity, 
conviction, and aggressiveness that one felt impelled 
to accept them — for the moment at least. I One is al- 
most persuaded to accept any idea which is well ex- 

He was interested in everything about me — my 
friends and little adventures and what I was writing. 
I loved him for his beautiful appreciation of my 
teacher's work. Of all the people who have written 
about me he is almost the only one who has realized 
the importance of Miss Sullivan in my life, who has 
appreciated her "brilliancy, penetration, wisdom, 
character, and the fine literary competences of her 

He often spoke tenderly of Mrs. Clemens and 
regretted that I had not known her. 

"I am very lonely, sometimes, when I sit by the 
fire after my guests have departed," he used to say. 
"My thoughts trail away into the past. I think of 
Livy and Susie and I seem to be fumbling in the 
dark folds of confused dreams. I come upon memo- 
ries of little intimate happenings of long ago that 
drop like stars into the silence. One day every- 
thing breaks and crumbles. It did the day Livy 
died." Mr. Clemens repeated with emotion and in- 
expressible tenderness the lines which he had carved 
on her tombstone : 


Warm summer sun, 
Shine kindly here ; 
Warm Southern wind, 
Blow softly here ; 
Green sod above. 
Lie light, lie light ; 
Good night, dear heart, 
Good night, good night. 

The year after her death he said to me, ^'This has 
been the saddest year I have ever known. If it were 
not that work brings forgetfulness, life would be in- 
tolerable." He expressed regret that he had not ac- 
complished more. I exclaimed, ^'Why, Mr. Clemens, 
the whole world has crowned you. Already your 
name is linked with the greatest names in our his- 
tory. Bernard Shaw compares your work with that 
of Voltaire, and Kipling has called you the Ameri- 
can Cervantes." 

"Ah, Helen, you have a honeyed tongue; but you 
don't understand. I have only amused people. Their 
laughter has submerged me." 

There are writers who belong to the history of 
their nation's literature. Mark Twain is one of them. 
When we think of great Americans we think of him. 
He incorporated the age he lived in. To me he sym- 
bolizes the pioneer qualities — the large, free, un- 
conventional, humorous point of view of men who 
sail new seas and blaze new trails through the wil- 


derness. Mark Twain and the Mississippi River 
are inseparable in my mind. When I told him that 
Life on the Mississippi was my favourite story of ad- 
venture, he said, "That amazes me. It wouldn't have 
occurred to me that a woman would find such rough 
reading interesting. But I don't know much about 
women. It would be impossible for a person to know 
less about women than I do." 

After some badinage back and forth about women, 
Mr. Clemens's manner changed. A sadness came 
into his voice. "Those were glorious days, the days 
on the Mississippi. They will come back no more, 
life has swallowed them up, and youth will come no 
more. They were days when the tide of life was high, 
when the heart was full of the sparkling wine of 
romance. There have been no other days like them." 

It was just after he had read my book The World 
I Live In, that he sent a note to Wrentham saying, "I 
command you all three to come and spend a few 
days with me in Stormfield." 

It was indeed the summons of a beloved king. His 
carriage met us at Redding station. If my memory 
serves me, it was in February; there was a light snow 
upon the Connecticut hills. It was a glorious five 
mile drive to Stormfield ; little icicles hung from the 
edges of the leaves and there was a tang in the air 
of cedar and pine. We drove rapidly along the wind- 
ing country roads, the horses were in high spirits. 


Mr. Macy kept reading signboards bearing the in- 
itials ''M. T." As we approached the Italian villa 
on the very top of the hill, they told me he was stand- 
ing on the verandah waiting. As the carriage rolled 
between the huge granite pillars, he waved his hand ; 
they told me he was all in white and that his beauti- 
ful white hair glistened in the afternoon sunshine 
like the snow spray on the gray stones. 

There was a bright fire on the hearth, and we 
breathed in the fragrance of pine and the orange 
pekoe tea. I scolded Mr. Clemens a little for coming 
out on the verandah without his hat; there was still 
a winter chill in the air. He seemed pleased that I 
thought about him in that way, and said rather wist- 
fully, "It is not often these days that anyone notices 
when I am imprudent." 

We were in the land of enchantment. We sat by 
the fire and had our tea and buttered toast and he 
insisted that I must have strawberry jam on my toast. 
We were the only guests. Miss Lyon, Mr. Clemens's 
secretary, presided over the tea table. 

Mr. Clemens asked me if I would like to see the 
house, remarking that people found it more inter- 
esting than himself. 

Out of the living room there was a large sunny, 
beautiful loggia, full of living plants and great jar- 
dinieres filled with wild grasses, cat-tails, goldenrod, 
and thistles which had been gathered on the hills in 


the late fall. We returned through the living room 
to the dining room and out on to the pergola and 
back again to the house and into the billiard room, 
where Mr. Clemens said he spent his happiest hours. 
,He was passionately fond of billiards, and very proud 
of the billiard table with which Mrs. H. H. Rogers 
had presented him. He said he would teach me to 

I answered, "Oh, Mr. Clemens, it takes sight to 
play billiards." 

"Yes," he teased, "but not the variety of billiards 
that Paine and Dunne and Rogers play. The blind 
couldn't play worse." Then upstairs to see Mr. 
Clemens's bedroom and examine the carved bed- 
posts and catch a glimpse of the view out of the 
great windows before darkness closed in upon us. 

"Try to picture, Helen, what we are seeing out of 
these windows. We are high up on a snow-covered 
hill. Beyond, are dense spruce and firwoods, other 
snow-clad hills and stone walls intersecting the land- 
scape everywhere, and over all, the white wizardry 
of winter. It is a delight, this wild, free, fir-scented 

Our suite of rooms was next to his. On the mantel- 
piece, suspended from a candlestick, was a card ex- 
plaining to burglars where articles of value were in 
the room. There had recently been a burglary in the 


house, and Mr. Clemens explained that this was a 
precaution against being disturbed by intruders. 

"Before I leave you," he said, "I want to show you 
Clara's room; it is the most beautiful apartment in 
the house." 

He was not content until he had shown us the 
servants' quarters, and he would have taken us to 
the attic if Miss Lyon had not suggested that we leave 
it for another day. It was obvious that Mr. Clemens 
took great satisfaction in his unusual house. He told 
us that it had been designed by the son of my life- 
long friend, William Dean Howells. Delightfully he 
pointed out that the architecture was exactly suited 
to the natural surroundings, that the dark cedars and 
pines, which were always green, made a singularly 
beautiful setting for the white villa. Mr. Clemens 
particularly enjoyed the sunlight that came through 
the great windows and the glimpse of field and sky 
that could be seen through them. 

"You observe," he said to us, "there are no pic- 
tures on the walls. Pictures in this house would be 
an impertinence. No artist, going to this window and 
looking out, has ever equalled that landscape." 

We stayed in our room till dinner was announced. 
Dinner in Mr. Clemens's house was always a func- 
tion where conversation was important; yes, more im- 
portant than the food. It was a rule in that house 
that guests were relieved of the responsibility of con- 


versation. Mr. Clemens said that his personal experi- 
ence had taught him that you could not enjoy your 
dinner if the burden of finding something to say was 
weighing heavily upon you. He made it a rule, he 
said, to do all the talking in his own house, and ex- 
pected when he was invited out that his hosts would 
do the same. He talked delightfully, audaciously, 
brilliantly. His talk was fragrant with tobacco and 
flamboyant with profanity. I adored him because he 
did not temper his conversation to any femininity. 
He was a playboy sometimes and on occasions liked to 
show off. He had a natural sense of the dramatic, and 
enjoyed posing as he talked. But in the core of him 
there was no make-believe. He never attempted to 
hide his light under a bushel. I think it was Goethe 
who said, ^'Only clods are modest." If that is true, 
then in the world there was not less of a clod than 
Mr. Clemens. 

He ate very little himself, and invariably grew 
restless before the dinner was finished. He would get 
up in the midst of a sentence, walk round the table 
or up and down the long dining room, talking all 
the while. He would stop behind my chair, and ask 
me if there was anything I wanted ; he would some- 
times take a flower from a vase and if I happened to 
be able to identify it he showed his pleasure by 
describing in an exaggerated manner the powers that 
lie latent in our faculties, declaring that the ordinary 


human being had not scratched the surface of his 
brain. This line of observation usually led to a tirade 
upon the appalling stupidity of all normal human 
beings. Watching my teacher spelling to me, he 
drawled, "Can you spell into Helen's left hand and 
tell her the truth?" Sometimes the butler called his 
attention to a tempting dish, and he would sit down 
and eat. 

To test my powers of observation, he would leave 
the room quietly and start the self-playing organ in 
the living room. My teacher told me how amusing 
it was to see him steal back to the dining room and 
watch stealthily for any manifestations on my part 
that the vibrations had reached my feet. I did not 
often feel the musical vibrations, as I believe the 
floor was tiled, which prevented the sound waves 
from reaching me, but I did sometimes feel the chord 
vibrations through the table. I was always glad when 
I did, because it made Mr. Clemens so happy. 

We gathered about the warm hearth after dinner, 
and Mr. Clemens stood with his back to the fire 
talking to us. There he stood — our Mark Twain, our 
American, our humorist, the embodiment of our 
country. He seemed to have absorbed all America 
into himself. The great Mississippi River seemed 
forever flowing, flowing through his speech, through 
the shadowless white sands of thought. His voice 
seemed to say like the river, "Why hurry? Eternity 


is long; the ocean can wait." In reply to some ex- 
pression of our admiration for the spaciousness and 
the beauty of the room, which was a combination of 
living room and library, he said with more enthu- 
siasm than was his wont, "It suits me perfectly. I 
shall never live anywhere else in this world." 

He was greatly interested when we told him that 
a friend of ours, Mr. W. S. Booth, had discovered 
an acrostic in the plays, sonnets, and poems usually 
attributed to Shakespeare, which revealed the author 
to be Francis Bacon. He was at first sceptical and in- 
clined to be facetious at our expense. He attacked 
the subject vigorously, yet less than a month elapsed 
before he brought out a new book, Is Shakespeare 
Dead? in which he set out, with all his fire, to de- 
stroy the Shakespeare legend, but not, he said in a 
letter to me, with any hope of actually doing it. 

"I wrote the booklet for pleasure — not in the ex- 
pectation of convincing anybody that Shakespeare 
did not write Shakespeare. And don't you," he 
warned me, "write in any such expectation. Shake- 
speare, the Stratford tradesman, will still be the 
divine Shakespeare to our posterity a thousand years 

When the time came to say good night, Mr. 
Clemens led me to my room himself and told me 
that I would find cigars and a thermos bottle with 
Scotch whiskey, or Bourbon if I preferred it, in the 


bathroom. He told me that he spent the morning in 
bed writing, that his guests seldom saw him before 
lunch time, but if I felt like coming in to see him 
about ten-thirty, he would be delighted, for there 
were some things he would like to say to me when 
my Guardian Angel was not present. 

About ten o'clock the next morning, he sent for 
me. He liked to do his literary work in bed, propped 
up among his snowy pillows looking very handsome 
in his dressing gown of rich silk, dictating his notes 
to a stenographer. He said if doing my work that 
way appealed to me, I might have half the bed, 
provided I maintained strict neutrality and did not 
talk. I told him the price was prohibitive, I could 
never yield woman's only prerogative, great as the 
temptation was. 

It was a glorious bright day, and the sun streamed 
through the great windows. Mr. Clemens said if I 
did not feel inclined to work after lunch (which was 
by way of sarcasm, as he had previously remarked 
that I did not look industrious, and he believed that 
I had somebody to write my books for me), he 
would take a little walk with us and show us the 
"farm." He said he would not join us at lunch, as 
his doctor had put him on a strict diet. He appeared, 
however, just as dessert was being served. He said 
he had smelt the apple pie and could not resist. 
Miss Lyon protested timidly. 

''Oh, Mr. Clemens " 

"Yes, I know; but fresh apple pie never killed 
anybody. But if Helen says I can't, I won't." I did 
not have the heart to say he couldn't, so we com- 
promised on a very small piece, which was later aug- 
mented by a larger piece, after a pantomimic warn- 
ing to the others not to betray him. 

I suspected what was going on, and said, ''Come, 
let us go before Mr. Clemens sends to the kitchen 
for another pie." 

He said, "Tell her I suspected she was a psychic. 
That proves she is." 

He put on a fur-lined greatcoat and fur cap, filled 
his pockets with cigars, and declared himself ready 
to start on the walk. He led me through the pergola, 
stopping to let me feel the cedars which stood guard 
at every step. 

"The arches were intended for ramblers," he said, 
"but unfortunately they haven't bloomed this winter. 
I have spoken to the gardener about it, and I hope 
the next time you come we shall have roses bloom- 
ing for you." He picked out a winding path which 
he thought I could follow easily. It was a delight- 
ful path, which lay between rocks and a saucy little 
brook that winter had not succeeded in binding with 
ice fetters. He asked Mr. Macy to tell me there was 
a tall white building across an intervening valley 
from where we were standing. "Tell her it's a church, 


It used to stand on this side of the brook; but the 
congregation moved it last summer when I told them 
I had no use for it. I had no idea that New England 
people were so accommodating. At that distance it 
is just what a church should be — serene and pure 
and mystical." We crossed the brook on a little rustic 
footbridge. He said it was a prehistoric bridge, and 
that the quiet brown pool underneath was the one 
celebrated in the Songs of Solomon. I quoted the 
passage he referred to : "Thine eyes like the fishpools 
in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim." It was a 
joy being with him, holding his hand as he pointed 
out each lovely spot and told some charming untruth 
about it. He said, "The book of earth is wonderful. 
I wish I had time to read it. I think if I had begun in 
my youth, I might have got through the first chapter. 
But it's too late to do anything about it now." 

We wandered on and on, forgetful of time and 
distance, beguiled by stream and meadow and seduc- 
tive stone walls wearing their antumn draperies of 
red and gold vines a little dimmed by rain and snow, 
but still exquisitely beautiful. When we turned at 
last, and started to climb the hill, Mr. Clemens 
paused and stood gazing over the frosty New Eng- 
land valley, and said, "Age is like this, we stand on 
the summit and look back over the distance and 
time. Alas, how swift are the feet of the days of the 
years of youth." We realized that he was very tired, 



Mr. Macy suggested that he should return cross- 
lots and meet us on the road with a carriage. Mr. 
Clemens thought this a good idea, and agreed to 
pilot Mrs. Macy and me to the road, which he had 
every reason to suppose was just beyond that ele- 
phant of a hill. Our search for that road was a won- 
derful and fearsome adventure. It led through cow- 
paths, across ditches filled with ice-cold water into 
fields dotted with little islands of red and gold which 
rose gently out of the white snow. On closer inspec- 
tion we found that they were composed of patches 
of dry goldenrod and huckleberry bushes. We 
picked our way through treacherously smiling cart 
roads. He said, ^'Every path leading out of this 
jungle dwindles into a squirrel track and runs up 
a tree." The cart roads proved to be ruts that en- 
snared our innocent feet. Mr. Clemens had the wary 
air of a discoverer as he turned and twisted between 
spreading branches of majestic pines and dwarfed 
hazel bushes. I remarked that we seemed to be away 
off our course. He answered, ^'This is the uncharted 
wilderness. We have wandered into the chaos that 
existed before Jehovah divided the waters from the 
land. The road is just over there," he asserted with 
conviction. ''Yes," we murmured faintly, wondering 
how we should ever ford the roaring, tumbling imp 
of a stream which flung itself at us out of the hills. 


There was no doubt about it. The road was just there 
^'where you see that rail fence." Prophecy deepened 
into happy certainty when we saw Mr. Macy and the 
coachman waiting for us. "Stay where you are," they 
shouted. In a few seconds they had dismembered the 
rail fence and were transporting it over the field. It 
did not take them long to construct a rough bridge, 
over which we safely crossed the Redding Rubicon, 
and sure enough, there was the narrow road of civi- 
lization winding up the hillside between stone walls 
and clustering sumachs and wild cherry trees on 
which little icicles were beginning to form like 
pendants. Half way down the drive Miss Lyon met 
us with tearful reproaches. Mr. Clemens mumbled 
weakly, "It has happened again — the woman tempted 

I think I never enjoyed a walk more. Sweet is the 
memory of hours spent with a beloved companion. 
Even being lost with Mr. Clemens was delightful, 
although I was terribly distressed that he should be 
exerting himself beyond his strength. He said many 
beautiful things about Stormfield, for instance, "It 
is my Heaven. Its repose stills my restlessness. The 
view from every point is superb and perpetually 
changes from miracle to miracle, yet nature never 
runs short of new beauty and charm." I hope the 
report is not true that he came to hate the place and 


feel that he had been defrauded of the society of his 
fellow men. But I can understand that a tempera- 
ment like Mr. Clemens's would grow weary of the 

The last evening of our visit we sat around a blaz- 
ing log fire, and Mr. Clemens asked me if I would 
like to have him read me "Eve's Diary." Of course I 
was delighted. 

He asked, "How shall we manage it?" 

"Oh, you will read aloud, and my teacher will 
spell your words into my hand." 

He murmured, "I had thought you would read my 

"I should like to, of course; but I am afraid you 
will find it very wearisome. We'll start that way any- 
how, and if it doesn't work, we'll try the other way." 
This was an experience, I am sure, no other person in 
the world had ever had. 

"You know, Mr. Clemens," I reminded him, "that 
we are going home to-morrow, and you promised 
to put on your Oxford robe for me before I went." 

"So, I did, Helen, and I will — I will do it now 
before I forget." 

Miss Lyon brought the gorgeous scarlet robe 
which he had worn when England's oldest university 
conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Letters. 
He put it on, and stood there in the fire light the 
embodiment of gracious majesty. He seemed pleased 


that I was impressed. He drew me towards him and 
kissed me on the brow, as a cardinal or pope or 
feudal monarch might have kissed a little child. 

How I wish I could paint the picture of that 
evening! Mr. Clemens sat in his great armchair, 
dressed in his white serge suit, the flaming scarlet 
robe draping his shoulders, and his white hair gleam- 
ing and glistening in the light of the lamp which 
shone down on his head. In one hand he held "Eve's 
Diary" in a glorious red cover. In the other hand he 
held his pipe. "If it gets in the way," he said, "I'll 
give it up, but I feel embarrassed without it." I sat 
down near him in a low chair, my elbow on the arm 
of his chair, so that my fingers could rest lightly on 
his lips. Mr. Macy lighted his cigar, and the play be- 
gan. Everything went smoothly for a time. I had no 
difl[iculty getting the words from his lips. His pleas- 
ant drawl was music to my touch, but when he began 
gesticulating with his pipe, the actors in the drama 
got mixed up with the properties and there was con- 
fusion until the ashes were gathered into the fire- 
place. Then a new setting was arranged. Mrs. Macy 
came and sat beside me and spelled the words into 
my right hand, while I looked at Mr. Clemens with 
my left, touching his face and hands and the book, 
following his gestures and every changing expres- 
sion. As the reading proceeded, we became utterly 
absorbed in the wistful, tender chronicle of our first 


parents. Surely the joy, the innocence, the opening 
mind of childhood are among life's most sacred 
mysteries, and if young Eve laughs she makes crea- 
tion all the sweeter for her Heaven-born merriment. 
The beauty of Mr. Clemens's voice, v^hen Eve sighed 
her love, and when Adam stood at her grave griev- 
ing bitterly saying "wheresoever she was, there was 
Eden" caused me to weep openly, and the others 
swallowed audibly. Every one of us felt the yearn- 
ing homesickness in that cry of pain. 

To one hampered and circumscribed as I am it 
was a wonderful experience to have a friend like Mr. 
Clemens. I recall many talks with him about human 
affairs. He never made me feel that my opinions were 
worthless, as so many people do. He knew that we 
do not think with eyes and ears, and that our capacity 
for thought is not measured by five senses. He kept 
me always in mind while he talked, and he treated 
me like a competent human being. That is why I 
loved him. 

Perhaps my strongest impression of him was that 
of sorrow. There was about him the air of one who 
had suffered greatly. Whenever I touched his face 
his expression was sad, even when he was telling a 
funny story. He smiled, not with the mouth but with 
his mind — a gesture of the soul rather than of the 
face. His voice was truly wonderful. To my touch, it 
was deep, resonant. He had the power of modulating 


it so as to suggest the most delicate shades of mean- 
ing and he spoke so deliberately that I could get 
almost every word with my fingers on his lips. Ah, 
how sweet and poignant the memory of his soft slow 
speech playing over my listening fingers. His words 
seemed to take strange lovely shapes on my hands. His 
own hands were wonderfully mobile and changeable 
under the influence of emotion. It has been said that 
life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have 
complained in my heart because many pleasures of 
human experience have been withheld from me, but 
when I recollect the treasure of friendship that has 
been bestowed upon me I withdraw all charges 
against life. If much has been denied me, much, very 
much has been given me. So long as the memory of 
certain beloved friends live in my heart I shall say 
that life is good. 

The affluence of Mr. Clemens's mind impressed me 
vividly. His felicitous words gushed from it with 
the abundance of the Shasta Falls. Humour was on 
the surface, but in the centre of his nature was a 
passion for truth, harmony, beauty. 

Once he remarked in his pensive, cynical way, 
^'There is so little in life that is not pretence." 

"There is beauty, Mr. Clemens." 

"Yes, there is beauty, and beauty is the seed of 
spirit from which we grow the flowers that shall 


I did not realize until I began this sketch how 
extremely difficult it would be to recapture Mr. 
Clemens's happy phrases from my memory. I am 
afraid I should not have succeeded at all if I had 
not made a few notes after my conversation with 
him. But I believe I have never falsified a word or 
an emphasis of the spirit of his utterances. 

Time passed at Stormfield as it passes everywhere 
else, and the day came when we had to say good-bye. 
The kindly white figure stood on the verandah wav- 
ing us farewell, as he had waved his welcome when 
we arrived. Silently we watched the stately villa on 
the white hilltop fading into the purple distance. We 
said to each other sadly, "Shall we ever see him 
again?" And we never did. But we three knew that 
we had a picture of him in our hearts which would 
remain there forever. In my fingertips was graven 
the image of his dear face with its halo of shining 
white hair, and in my memory his drawling, mar- 
vellous voice will always vibrate. 

I have visited Stormfield since Mark Twain's 
death. The flowers still bloom; the breezes still 
whisper and sough in the cedars, which have grown 
statelier year by year ; the birds still sing, they tell 
me. But for me the place is bereft of its lover. The 
last time I was there, the house was in ruins. Only 
the great chimney was standing, a charred pile of 
bricks in the bright autumn landscape. 


As I sat on the step where he had stood with me 
one day, my hand warm in his, thoughts of him, like 
shadowy presences, came and went, sweet with 
memory and with regret. Then I fancied I felt 
someone approaching me; I reached out, and a red 
geranium blossom met my touch! The leaves of the 
plant were covered with ashes, and even the sturdy 
stalk had been partly broken off by a chip of falling 
plaster. But there was the bright flower smiling at 
me out of the ashes. I thought it said to me, "Please 
don't grieve." I brought the plant home and set it 
in a sunny corner of my garden, where always it 
seems to say the same thing to me, "Please don't 
grieve." But I grieve, nevertheless. 

Chapter V 


I HAVE been writing about the play days in Wrent- 
ham. I have not dwelt upon the perplexities I went 
through trying to find my special niche in life. Even 
while I was in college I had asked myself how I 
could use the education I was receiving. I felt that 
there must be some particular task for me, but what 
was it? 

My friends had all manner of plans. While I 
was still at Radcliffe one of them conceived the idea 
that I was wasting precious time on books and study 
which would do nobody good. She said I was be- 
coming self-centred and egotistical and that I could 
accomplish more for humanity if I devoted myself to 
the education of children afflicted like myself. She 
told me that God had laid this work upon me and 
that it was my duty to hearken to His voice. She said 
it would not be necessary for us to do anything about 
financing the project, that she would attend to it 
herself. We begged her to wait until I finished my 
education, but she said that procrastination was the 
greatest of sins. She spent the night with us in Cam- 
bridge, arguing, and as hour after hour passed my 



teacher and I became more and more exhausted. Our 
friend was still charging our defences. She took our 
feeble counterattack for surrender, and before we 
were up the next morning she was off for New York 
and Washington to acquaint my friends with the mis- 
sion I had undertaken. She called on Dr. Alexander 
Graham Bell, Mrs. Lawrence Hutton, Mr. Harsen 
Rhoades,and many others,and told them how strongly 
I felt that I must pass on the blessings I had enjoyed 
to other deaf-blind children. Mrs. Hutton asked me 
to come to New York and tell them how I felt in 
the matter. I had written her that the project was 
giving me infinite trouble, and seriously interfering 
with my college work. We met in Mr. Rhoades's 
private office in the Greenwich Savings Bank. Mr. 
H. H. Rogers, who was financing my college course, 
could not be present, and so he sent Mark Twain as 
his representative. The matter was thoroughly 
threshed out. When Mr. Clemens rose to speak he 
said that, unlike the lady who was sponsoring the 
scheme, he did not know what the Lord wanted him 
to say, but that he did know what H. H. Rogers 
wanted him to say. ''Mr. Rogers wishes it to be un- 
derstood," he said, "that he does not intend to finance 
any of the Lord's projects on the recommendation 
of Mrs. So and So. She seems thoroughly familiar 
with the Lord's intentions. She made it clear in her 
conversation that her plan for a school for afflicted 


children embodied His idea exactly. I couldn't help 
wondering how she got every detail of the divine idea 
right when there were no written instructions. Per- 
haps the Lord appointed her His deputy with power 
to act for Him. There is no other possible explana- 
tion of how, out of the countless good ideas for this 
institution, she was able to pick the one which had 
the Deity's sanction every time." 

All through my life people who imagine them- 
selves more competent than my teacher and I have 
wanted to organize my affairs. No doubt it would 
have been to our advantage if some of these ideas 
had been carried out. On the other hand, it is hard 
to see how all their excellent suggestions could 
have been followed ; for they had opposite aims. We 
were strangers when we met. Usually we were 
friends for a space of time, but when we parted, the 
bonds of our friendship creaked considerably, and 
on several occasions they snapped. These friends 
pointed out our incompetence, and assured us that 
if we followed their plan, we should win fame and 
fortune, and incidentally benefit some good cause. 
They talked, they wrote, they brought their friends 
to help them, and went away, and the next day others 
came. Sometimes it was necessary, as in the case of 
the plan about which I have just written, to call 
upon my staunch friends Mr. Rogers, Mrs. Hutton, 
and Mrs. William Thaw, to get me out of their toils. 


Some of these entanglements had memorable and 
unfortunate consequences for me. 

There was an effort on the part of Mr. Anagnos, 
the successor of Dr. Howe as director of the Perkins 
Institution for the Blind when I was a little girl to 
keep my teacher and me at the Institution. Miss 
Sullivan thought that it would be detrimental to my 
development to remain in an institution. She has 
always believed that handicapped people should not 
be herded together when it is possible to keep them in 
a normal environment. There were many reasons why 
it would have been delightful for me to live at the 
Institution. Nearly everyone there could spell to me, 
and I was happy with the blind children. Moreover, 
I loved Mr. Anagnos like a father. He was ex- 
ceedingly kind to me, and I owe him some of the 
brightest memories of my childhood ; best of all, it 
was he who sent my teacher to me. When we left the 
Institution and went on our wayward quest of edu- 
cation Mr. Anagnos bitterly resented what he was 
pleased to call Miss Sullivan's ingratitude, and shut 
us out from his heart. I like to think that if he lived, 
he would have come to see that she chose the wiser 

Some of the would-be directors of my life have 
staged the little dramas in which I was to play the 
leading role with such delicate art, they almost 
seemed like my own conceptions, and their failure 


to materialize gloriously has hurt my pride not a 
little. The beautiful Queen of Roumania, who used 
to write to me under her nom de plume, Carmen 
Sylva, had a plan for gathering all the blind of her 
kingdom into one place and giving them pleasant 
homes and employment. This city was to be called 
"Vatra Luminosa" — "Luminous Hearth." She 
wanted me to help her finance it. The idea had its 
origin in a generous heart; but it was not in accord- 
ance with modern methods of helping the sightless to 
help themselves. I wrote Queen Elizabeth that I 
did not feel that I could cooperate with her. She was 
deeply hurt. She thought I was selfish and had not 
the true happiness of the blind at heart. Our pleasant 
correspondence was broken off, and I never heard 
direct from her again. 

But I cannot leave this subject without a word of 
appreciation of the friends who have not tried to 
manage me. Curiously enough, they are the ones who 
have contributed most to my usefulness and joy. If 
those who believe in us, and give money to enable 
us to realize our ambitions, have a right to a say in 
the shaping of our lives, certainly my teacher, my 
mother, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Carnegie, Mrs. Thaw, 
and Dr. Bell had that right; but they never exer- 
cised it in word or deed. And since they left me free 
to choose my own work (within my limitations) I 
looked about to see what there was that I could do. 


I resolved that whatever role I did play in life it 
would not be a passive one. 

Before I left Radcliffe I had heard the call of the 
sightless. In 1903, while I was a junior, I received 
a visit from an enthusiastic young man, Mr. Charles 
F. F. Campbell, whom I had met while he was still 
a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Tech- 
nology. I knew about his famous father, Sir Francis 
Campbell, an American blind man, educated at the 
Perkins Institution, who founded the Royal Normal 
College and Academy of Music for the Blind in 
England and was knighted by the King for his 
services to the sightless. Young Mr. Campbell wished 
me to join an association which had just been formed 
by the Women's Educational and Industrial Union 
in Boston to promote the welfare of the adult blind. I 
did so, and soon after I appeared before the legisla- 
ture with the new association to urge the necessity of 
employment for the blind and to ask for the appoint- 
ment of a State Commission that would make them 
their special care. The commission was appointed, 
and although I did not know it at the time, the cur- 
tain rose on my life work. 

The association established an experimental sta- 
tion under Mr. Campbell's direction for the purpose 
of testing oul: industries that seemed practicable. The 
blind were taught trades in their homes and a sales 
rgom was opened in Boston for the disposal of their 


wares. The new Commission opened a series of shops 
in different parts of the state, and a great movement 
was launched in which Mr. Campbell was the leader 
until 1922. No one in our day has done more to put 
the blind on an equal footing with the seeing. I have 
never ceased to lament that he is no longer connected 
with the work and I hope the day is not distant when 
he will again join our crusade against darkness. 

It was not until the autumn of 1904, after we had 
moved to Wrentham, that I seriously began to study 
blindness and the problems it creates. I found that 
one of the greatest needs was a central clearing house. 
Much time and money were wasted in unorganized 
effort. Scarcely anyone in Massachusetts knew what 
was being done in other parts of the United States. 
There was "a separation in space and spirit" between 
the various schools and societies which rendered it 
very difficult to collect and distribute information. 
There was no accurate census of the blind in 
America. Nor was there a national survey of occu- 
pations. There was no central group to go out into 
new territory and start the work for the blind. There 
was no bureau of research or information. The ap- 
paratus used by the blind was primitive. Books were 
expensive and there was no unified system of em- 
bossed printing. 

The first printing ever done in relief was in an 
embossed Roman letter. It was never satisfactory. 


The classroom instruction in literature and music 
remained chiefly oral. Tangible writing was impos- 
sible. But with the introduction of Braille's alphabet 
of raised dots that could easily be felt by the finger 
and arranged in combinations to represent letters, 
the era of educating the blind, as we understand it 
to-day, began. Every pupil could learn to read it 
and to write it. It was of universal application : to 
any language, longhand or shorthand, to mathematics 
and to music. As a system it was and is adequate to 
all purposes. More than any other single lever it has 
served to lift the educational status of blind people. 

Its inventor, Louis Braille, blinded by accident at 
the age of three years, became first a pupil and then 
a teacher at the National Institution for the Blind 
in Paris, which was the parent of all such schools. At 
the age of sixteen he had worked out his alphabetical 
system, boldly addressing it to the finger only, not at 
all to the eye; and he had supplied a slate to write it 
on. The whole world of educated blind people uses 
it to-day, practically as he left it. Next to Valentin 
Haiiy himself, the founder of the first school for 
the blind, we consider Louis Braille our greatest 

Unfortunately, Dr. Howe, the director of the 
Massachusetts School for the Blind, whose word 
carried more weight than that of anyone else in 
America, rejected this invention and continued to 


print books in the Roman letter, and other schools 
in America followed the example of Massachusetts. 
But the greater part of the blind could not read the 
Roman letter. Naturally, they wanted something they 
could read, and so a number of dot systems sprang up 
all over the United States. The confusion of prints 
yvent from bad to worse. Each party clung tenaciously 
to its own theory, and the blind themselves had no 
voice in the matter. It was so expensive to make 
books in the different systems that the number re- 
mained extremely limited, and furthermore the 
multiplicity of prints resulted in duplication. Even 
our magazines were printed in several different 
types, thus multiplying the expense of their produc- 
tion. I learned five different prints — New York point, 
American braille, European braille. Moon, and Line 
type — in order to avail myself of all that had been 
printed for the blind. The Bible and other books 
universally demanded were printed in all five sys- 

The condition of the adult blind was almost hope- 
less. Many of them were idle and in want, and not a 
few of them were in almshouses. Many had lost their 
sight when it was too late to go to school. They were 
without occupation or diversion or resources of any 
kind. The crudest part of their fate then as now was 
not blindness but the feeling that they were a burden 
tQ their families or the community. 


I was surprised to find when I talked to seeing 
persons well informed about other matters, a medi- 
,feval ignorance concerning the sightless. They assured 
me that the blind can tell colours by touch and that 
the senses they have are more delicate and acute than 
those of other people. Nature herself, they told me, 
seeks to atone to the blind by giving them a singular 
sensitiveness and a sweet patience of spirit. It seemed 
not to occur to them that if this were true it would 
be an advantage to lose one's sight. 

The most important phase of all the work, namely, 
the prevention of blindness in new-born children, 
could not even be discussed. The medical profession 
had known since 1881 that at least two thirds of the 
children admitted to the schools had been blinded 
as a result of a germ which attacked the eyes in the 
process of birth, and that the disease caused by this 
infection, ophthalmia neonatorum, was easily pre- 
ventable. But because it was associated with venereal 
disease, though not always caused by it, very few 
had the courage to bring the matter to the attention 
of the public. By 1900 a number of physicians had 
done this, among them Dr. F. Park Lewis of Buffalo, 
Dr. A. Morrow of New York, and Dr. North of 
Boston. It was this group that began urging the 
association and commission I had joined to take up 
the work of prevention, and a lay campaign was 
started which resulted in the formation of a National 


Committee for the Prevention of Blindness, which is 
still active. 

A few years later when I visited Kansas City, the 
physicians in charge of the eye clinic there asked me 
to see if I could persuade Colonel Nelson, editor of 
the Kansas City Star, to allow blindness in the new- 
born to be discussed in his paper. At first he refused; 
but when he saw how disappointed I was, he said, 
"Well, write what you have to say, and I'll see what 
I can do." I Wrote out the facts for him, and he 
printed the article on the front page of the Star, 
Thus another barrier was broken down before the 
march of progress. 

The year 1907 was a banner year for the blind. 
Mr. Edward Bok threw open the pages of the Ladies' 
Home Journal for a frank discussion of the causes of 
blindness and I wrote a series of articles for him. 
Other periodicals of more or less prominence fol- 
lowed suit, and a great barrier went down before the 
march of progress. It was in 1907 that the Matilda 
Ziegler Magazine for the Blind was established. It 
was financed by Mrs. William Ziegler of New York, 
whose generosity has created more real happiness for 
the sightless than that of any other living person. For 
twenty years the magazine has been edited by Mr. 
Walter Holmes, who has won for himself a warm 
chimney corner in the hearts of all the blind. This 
same year Mr. Campbell began issuing The Outlook 


for the Blind, the first magazine in America to bring 
together all matters of interest concerning the sight- 
less. He carried it through sixteen years without any 
financial return to himself and during all that period 
succeeded in holding the good will of those who 
were battling over the types. 

It was in 1907 or 1908, I think, that I was asked to 
prepare a paper on the blind for an Encyclopedia of 
Education. This rather took my breath away, for it 
was before I was familiar with the history of their 
education, and the only book available on the sub- 
ject was in German, Alexander Mell's Blindenwesen. 
It was not in raised letters, and so Mr. Macy read 
it to me after his day's work. As I penetrated more 
deeply into the problems of the blind he also read 
me Diderot's rich, suggestive essay on blindness, and 
a French story. Sous les Trembles, which invested 
blind people with a stirring human interest. 

The more I did the more the requests multiplied. 
Over and over I was asked to write articles and at- 
tend meetings and speak to legislatures. Repeatedly 
I was invited to go abroad and visit the schools of 
France, Germany, England, and Italy, to interest 
people in the deaf or the blind. 

Dr. Bell and Dr. James Kerr Love of Scotland 
were urging me to bring the problems of the deaf 
before the public, and although I was as deeply 
interested in the cause of the deaf as I was in that of 


the blind and had always thought deafness before the 
acquisition of language a greater affliction than 
blindness, I found that it was not humanly possible 
to work for both the blind and the deaf at the same 

I did everything I could and several times made 
addresses, although my voice could be understood 
only in a small auditorium, and I had had no train- 
ing in public speaking. An occasion I especially re- 
member was when I went to the St. Louis Exposition 
in the hope of creating a wider interest in children 
who were deaf and blind. 

I was to speak one morning before a gathering of 
educators. The crowd was so great that it was obvious 
that I could not be heard. Mr. David Rowland 
Francis, President of the Exposition, who had a fine 
speaking voice, offered to read my address, but I had 
not brought a copy with me. *'Well," he said, "I 
understand you perfectly. I will repeat what you 
say." In fear and trembling I began. He kept his 
hand on my arm to signal me when to stop and when 
to go on. After half a dozen sentences I was satisfied 
that all was going well. When he finished we both 
received an ovation. 

In the meanwhile the crowd around the building 
had become so dense that it was impossible for us 
to get through it. Mrs. Macy and I were separated 
from our escort, our clothing was torn, and the 


flowers were snatched ofif my hat for souvenirs. Mr. 
Francis called out the guards to disperse the crowd 
and we were given six stalwart soldiers to conduct 
us through the grounds. 

In spite of this warm-hearted reception, nothing 
constructive was done for the deaf-blind of America. 
And now, after more than twenty years, I still grieve 
that so few of these little unhappy ones have been 
led out of their imprisonment. No moments in my 
life are sadder than those in which I have felt their 
groping hands in mine, mutely appealing for help I 
could not give. But it is useless to repine. I mention 
my young dream of their deliverance only because 
it is sweet to remember. 

Life was very strenuous. Often we would leave 
home with all the housework undone, hasten to a 
meeting, go through with its inevitable tiresome 
social functions, and return to Wrentham to find 
fresh tasks added to our already heavy burden. It is 
not strange that we both broke down several times 
after a series of public appearances. The requests and 
must-be-written letters continued to multiply — they 
would have kept a whole staff of assistants busy if we 
could have afforded it. 

We were hemmed in on all sides by unromantic 
obstacles. I had hoped to translate Maurice de la 
Sizeranne's Psychologic des Femmes Aveugles be- 
cause it contained much valuable information about 


the education of the blind in France. There was 
nothing in this country comparable with it except 
possibly Dr. Howe's reports of his work at the 
Massachusetts School, and these, unfortunately, were 
not generally available and naturally were not as 
up-to-date as the French book. Someone in Germany 
sent me a small volume of poems by Lorm, who lost 
both his sight and his hearing in adult life and who 
wrote many lines of courage and beauty about "The 
inner Sun I create in my Soul." But there were no 
adequate dictionaries of foreign languages in braille, 
and it was impossible for Mr. and Mrs. Macy to 
read me all the books I should have liked to put into 
English. We could not have paid a special reader 
even if the right kind had been forthcoming. 

During many years we had no servant. I learned to 
do all I could without sight to help my teacher. Mr. 
Macy went to Boston every morning, and Mrs. Macy 
drove him to the train and attended to the marketing. 
I cleared the table, washed the dishes, and tidied up 
the rooms. Letters might come in multitudes, articles 
and books might clamour to be written, but home 
was home, and somebody had to make the beds, pick 
the flowers, start the windmill and stop it when the 
tank was filled, and be mindful of the little almost 
unnoticed things which constitute the happiness of 
family life. Of course I could not take the helm of 


the ship in hand, but I found tasks sufficient to keep 
me on my feet most of the day, and everyone who 
loves knows how gratifying it is to be able really to 
help others through a hard day's routine. 

We were pursued by misunderstandings. Not long 
after we had started our Wrentham home life an 
incident occurred which explains how such mis- 
understandings began. Madame Elizabeth Nordin, 
a Swedish educator, called on us one day and talked 
with us for hours. She said she was in charge of a 
school for deaf-blind children in Sweden, and was 
visiting America for the purpose of studying the best 
methods to educate her pupils. We gladly gave her 
what information we could. She asked me to speak 
in French and German, and seemed surprised that 
I could pronounce the words as well as I did. She 
was full of pleasant compliments, and embraced me 
cordially when she departed. Afterwards we learned 
that she was indignant because we had not offered to 
entertain her as our guest for three weeks while she 
was studying American schools for the sightless! She 
had told me with amusement the myths she had read 
about me — that I could paint pictures and play the 
piano, and that I had a great gift for sculpture. Yet 
when she returned to Sweden she disseminated myths 
quite as absurd as these. She wrote an article full of 
misinformation in which she said I had received 


every honour at Radcliffe, and that Boston had pre- 
sented me with a house and a park! It was she who 
gave the educators of the blind in Europe exagger- 
ated accounts of my good fortune and liberal friends, 
and unparalleled opportunities to help all the deaf- 
blind to be taught and placed in homes where they 
would be well cared for ! While professing the utmost 
devotion to ''the poor, unhappy, doubly afflicted ones 
whose fate I shared," she placed me in a trying posi- 
tion from which I have never been able to extricate 
myself. It was she who brought upon my dear ones 
and me all the remonstrances and disappointed ex- 
postulations of people who believed I could help 
them. If any of my European friends happen to read 
this record, I hope they will understand that my 
refusals were not because I was indifferent. 

We tried to change our mode of living into some- 
thing like what we had hoped for when we moved 
to Wrentham, but we never succeeded. Now and 
then we resolutely withdrew from the world, to use 
the mediaeval phrase, and applied ourselves each to 
his or her own task. We barricaded ourselves with the 
sacrosanct privacy to which tradition and the neces- 
sities of concentrated thinking entitle writers and 
artists. But in spite of our attempted hermit life, we 
were imperatively called out to new duties. 

It was in the summer of 1906 that my teacher and 
I assumed the additional responsibility of attending 


the sessions of the Massachusetts Commission for the 
Blind, of which the Governor appointed me a mem- 
ber. Mrs. Macy sat beside me hour after hour, as she 
had done in college, and spelled to me everything 
that v^as said. We had found it a tax upon our facul- 
ties to keep up with the lecture of one professor 
talking steadily for a whole hour; but at these meet- 
ings we were breathless with the effort to keep up 
with comments, criticisms, questions and replies 
exchanged rapidly by four or five different persons, 
and the endless minutiae which characterize the 
sessions of a state board. From the beginning I was 
full of misgivings as to my qualifications for serving 
on the board. The more I listened to the discussions 
the less competent I felt to take part in them. It 
is never a simple matter to assist the blind. There 
are no rules which can be applied in all cases, because 
the circumstances and needs of each blind person 
differ from those of every other. It is, therefore, 
necessary to decide individually what method is best. 
The other commissioners had advantages which I 
did not. They could go from place to place visiting 
the blind, obtaining first hand information about 
their needs, and giving them expert advice as to the 
best means of overcoming their handicap. Besides, I 
was hampered by the slowness of my speech and 
never spoke up as I should when my turn came. In 
college the professor talked on the same subject 



connectedly, and indicated any change of thought; 
but when several people are talking the viewpoint 
shifts constantly, and the felicitous remark which is 
on the tip of one's tongue never gets uttered. Of 
course this is true of most conversation, but I was 
chagrined at my useless figure in a group of earnest 
servants of the public seeking to promote a cause 
which truly appealed to me. After some months I 
resigned from the Commission, and I resolved sternly 
that never again would I allow myself to be dragged 
into undertakings for which I was not intended by 

I knew now that my work was to be for the blind, 
and I had begun to realize that I could not do for 
them what I wanted unless I could present their 
problems for discussion before legislatures, medical 
associations, and conventions, more competently than 
I had done before. To do that I must improve my 

I had tried a number of teachers and had always 
been disappointed. But during the Christmas holi- 
days in 1909 when we were at Woodstock, Vermont, 
we met Mr. Charles A. White, a well-known teacher 
of singing at the Boston Conservatory of Music. At 
that time he had been very much interested in my 
speech and expressed a wish to sec what he could do 
with it. A year later wc arranged to have him come 
out to Wrentham every Saturday and stay over Sun- 


day that he might give me lessons. The old longing 
to speak like other people came back stronger than 
ever. I felt the tide of opportunity rising and longed 
for a voice that would be equal to the surge that was 
sweeping me out into the world. 

Chapter VI 


The acquirement of speech is not easy for those who 
cannot hear. The difficulties are doubled if they are 
blind also. But the educational importance of speech 
to the deaf cannot be exaggerated. Without a lan- 
guage of some sort one is not a human being; without 
speech one is not a complete human being. Even 
when the speech is not beautiful there is a fountain 
of joy in uttering words. It is an emotional experience 
quite different from that which comes from spelled 

When Miss Sullivan took me for my first lessons 

in articulation to Miss Sarah Fuller, principal of 

the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, and one of 

the pioneer teachers of speech in this country, I was 

nearly ten years of age. The only sounds I uttered 

were meaningless noises, usually harsh because of 

the great effort I made to produce them. Miss Fuller 

put my hand on her face, so that I could feel the 

vibrations of her voice, and slowly and very distinctly 

made the sound "ahm," while Miss Sullivan spelled 

into my hand the word arm. I imitated the sound as 



well as I could, and succeeded after several attempts 
in articulating it to Miss Fuller's satisfaction. 

I learned to speak several words that day in 
breathy, hollow tones. After eleven lessons I was able 
to say, word by word, "I-am-not-dumb-now." Miss 
Fuller tried to make me understand that I must speak 
softly, and not stiffen my throat or jerk my tongue, 
but I could not help straining and mouthing every 
word. I know now that my lessons should have been 
conducted differently. My vocal organs should have 
been developed first, and articulation afterwards. 

This would have approached the normal method 
of learning speech. The normal baby hears sounds 
from the moment he is born into the world. He lis- 
tens more or less passively. Then he cries and coos, 
and in countless ways exercises the delicate organs of 
speech before he attempts a word. Speech descends 
upon his lips like dew upon a flower. Without effort 
or conscious thought he utters spontaneous melodious 

How different is the situation of the little deaf 
child ! He hears no sound. No voice enters the silent 
cloister of his ear. Even if he has heard for 
a little while, as I did for nineteen months, he soon 
forgets. In his still world words once heard fly 
like swallows in the autumn, leaving no memory 
of their music. He does not use his vocal organs, 
because he feels no desire to speak. He goes 


to school and learns slowly, painfully, to substitute 
his eyes for his ears. Intently he watches his teacher's 
mouth as she makes a sound, and patiently he tries 
to form his lips and move his tongue in imitation. 
Every step is won at the cost of painful effort. 

Four years after I went to Miss Fuller I entered 
the Wright-Humason Oral School in New York, 
where for two years I received lessons in speech and 
lip reading. From that time until I began to study 
with Mr. White, Miss Sullivan helped me as well as 
she could to improve my articulation. I was happy 
because my family could understand me, also those 
who met me frequently enough to become accustomed 
to my speech. I found out that to speak at all intel- 
ligibly meant the incessant mastery of difficulties 
that had been mastered a thousand times. For years 
I put my hand on Miss Sullivan's face, observed the 
motions of her lips, put my fingers in her mouth to 
feel the position of her tongue, and repeated over and 
Dver the sounds she uttered, sometimes imitating them 
perfectly, then losing them again. Yet I never wav- 
ered in my determination to learn to talk, nor did 
she waver in her determination to help me. 

It is to her that I owe most of the progress I made 
in this, as in everything else. Her work with me has 
been based on instinctive good sense rather than on 
technical knowledge of vocal problem's. By per- 
sistent effort she improved my diction and kept my 


voice as pleasant as was possible under the circum- 
stances. She has tried to cultivate softness, but this 
very process tended to make the vocal organs deficient 
in resonance. Moreover, the enormous amount of 
work required for my education rendered it difficult 
to give my speech sufficient attention. This was un- 
fortunate, because in those formative years much 
more could have been done for my voice, and more 
easily than now. I say this to emphasize the need of 
early and continuous training throughout the grow- 
ing years of the deaf child. 

At first Mr. White and I regarded my speech 
lessons as experimental. But he became so interested 
in the problems that presented themselves at each 
lesson that he continued to teach me for three years. 
He spent the greater part of two summers in Wrent- 
ham. He would not take money for these lessons, 
declaring that he would be amply repaid if he 
succeeded in helping me. His delightful personality, 
his patience and perseverance and his quick sympathy 
endeared him to us all. I have a memory picture of 
his kind, expressive face which I cherish, and of his 
dear hand spelling out instructions without end. My 
heart warms as I recall the tireless encouragement 
with which he braced me when I failed and failed. 

I can give only a brief account of Mr. White's 
work with me here. He learned the manual alphabet 
so he could work with me just as he would with any 


other pupil. First, he directed my attention to posi- 
tion and breathing, and proceeded to get the lower 
ribs and diaphragm to participate more freely in the 
act of respiration. I then practised to open the reso- 
nating cavities through inhalation, and maintain this 
position through control of breath. His idea was to 
get the cavities of resonance under the control of the 
will before using the larynx. I therefore practised 
exercises without tone. The failure of my vocal 
chords to come together was the chief defect, and I 
still have much trouble in getting proper glottic 
closure. After securing this, I experimented in dif- 
ferent degrees of resistance in order to vary the 
tension of the chords. 

Having obtained some control of these three fac- 
tors of voice — motor, vibrator, and resonator — I 
studied vowels and consonants separately and in 
combination. Mr. White classified them according to 
a plan which he had thought out and used in his 
work with his pupils in the Conservatory. 

After this drill, I was ready to practise actual 
speech. But when Mr. White tried to give me accents 
and rhythm, he found that although I could recog- 
nize the changes of accent and rhythm he gave me, I 
could not project rhythms myself. Therefore it was 
necessary for him to train this sense. After repeated 
trials I got two units of equal duration, which opened 
the way for further development. Mr. White did this 


by patting my hand, first taking double, then triple 
and quadruple, measure, in simple and compound 
forms, and in syncopation. After this preparatory 
work, Mr. White was surprised that I could not 
coordinate the spoken word with the motion of the 
hand. This difficulty was soon overcome, however, 
and rhythm and accent could be utilized. 

Finally came the matter of pitch and quality. At 
first I showed no ability to raise or lower the pitch 
at will, and had to experiment with it. By this time 
I had become somewhat expert in detecting the 
changes which took place in the throat by lightly 
placing my fingers on Mr. White's throat and my 
own, and when he started a tone in a low pitch and 
suddenly raised it, say, an octave, I soon caught the 
idea. To Mr. White's amazement, after following 
this method for some time, he found that I could 
approximate definite pitches. He would ask me to 
sing an octave on ''sol," and I did it from my own 
sense of pitch. Then he asked for an octave one 
note higher, ''La, la." When I sounded the note, Mr. 
White struck a tuning fork against the desk. My 
tone corresponded with that of the fork, and I also 
sounded the intervals of a third and a fifth. 

It was a long time before he could build my voice 
up so that I could practise anything for the platform. 
Then the voice we had laboured for so hopefully 
became quite unmanageable. It would dive down so 


low or jump up so high that we were all discon- 
certed. A little rain or wind or dust, a wave of excite- 
ment, was enough to send it on a rampage, and I 
still marvel at the forbearance of the family who had 
to hear me morning, afternoon, and evening. A hear- 
ing person speaks a language learned he knows not 
how, and can f oreshape his words without conscious 
thought. I had not this boon of nature. What I said 
at night in one way I would say the next morning 
very differently, the sensations varied so disturbingly 
from day to day. A multitude of little vibrations that 
I had not noticed before bewildered me. I would 
practise, practise, and perhaps capture a firm, clear 
tone, only to have it escape me mysteriously. If I let 
fall a natural utterance without thinking, and tried 
to repeat it, it eluded me. 

It was three years before we felt I might try a 
public appearance. Then it was arranged that my 
teacher and I should give a demonstration of her 
work and my speech in Montclair, New Jersey. It 
was in February, 1913. 

I wonder if anyone has ever made his first ap- 
pearance upon the platform with keener anguish. 
Terror invaded my flesh, my mind froze, my heart 
stopped beating. I kept repeating, "What shall I do? 
What shall I do to calm this tumult within me?" 
Desperately I prayed, as the moment approached to 
go out before the audience, "O God, let me pour 


out my voice freely." I know I felt much as General 
Wolfe's men must have felt when in broad daylight 
they measured with their eyes the Heights of Abra- 
ham they had scaled in the dark — walls bristling with 
cannon ! 

Oh, that first appearance in Montclair, New 
Jersey! Until my dying day I shall think of that stage 
as a pillory where I stood cold, riveted, trembling, 
voiceless. Words thronged to my lips, but no syllable 
could I utter. At last I forced a sound. It felt to me 
like a cannon going off, but they told me afterwards 
it was a mere whisper. 

I tried to remember everything Mr. White had told 
me to do, but alas! Not a rule came to my assistance. 
Mustering all the will power and obstinacy of my 
nature I went on to the end of the speech. I was 
constantly between Charybdis and Scylla ; sometimes 
I felt my voice soaring and I knew that meant 
falsetto ; frantically I dragged it down till my words 
fell about me like loose bricks. Oh, if that kindly 
custom of Athens, that of accompanying an orator 
with a flute, could have prevailed, or if only an 
orchestra could have drowned my faltering speech, 
it would not have been so terrible. At last the ordeal 
was over. Everyone was kind and sympathetic, but I 
knew I had failed. All the eloquence which was to 
bring light to the blind lay crumpled at my feet. I 
came off the stage in despair, my face deluged with 


tears, my breast heaving with sobs, my whole body 
crying out, "Oh, it is too difficult, too difficult, I 
cannot do the impossible." But in a little while faith 
and hope and love came back and I returned to my 

I have not succeeded completely in realizing the 
desire of my childhood to "talk like other people." 
I know now how vain that wish was, and how ex- 
travagant my expectations were when I began my 
speech lessons. It is not humanly possible, I believe, 
for one who has been deaf from early infancy to do 
more than approximate natural speech. 

Since my tenth year I have laboured unceasingly 
to speak so that others can understand me without 
concentrated attention. I have had excellent instruc- 
tors and the constant assistance of my teacher. Yet I 
have only partially conquered the hostile silence. I 
have a voice that ministers to my work and my happi- 
ness. It is not a pleasant voice, I am afraid, but I have 
clothed its broken wings in the unfading hues of my 
dreams and my struggle for it has strengthened every 
fibre of my being and deepened my understanding of 
all human strivings and disappointed ambitions. 

Chapter VII 


We lectured only occasionally at first, as we were 
feeling our way towards a programme which would 
be acceptable to our audiences. All kinds of people 
came to hear us — the poor, the young, the blind, the 
deaf, and others handicapped in the race of life, and 
naturally their interest in me made me want to give 
them special messages of cheer or encouragement. 

We were warmly received wherever we went, and 
encouraged to go on with our work. Mrs. Macy had 
a natural gift of public speaking, and I was fre- 
quently told by strangers with what pleasure the 
audience listened to her story of how she taught me. 
She lectured a whole hour, while I sat quietly in the 
anteroom, reading to pass the time. When my turn 
came, my mother, or anyone who happened to ac- 
company us, brought me to the platform. I placed 
iriy fingers on Mrs. Macy's mouth, and we showed 
the audience how I could read the lips. The people 
asked questions, and I answered them as well as I 
could. Thus they became more accustomed to my 
imperfect speech. Afterwards I talked about happi- 
ness, or the value of the senses when well trained, or 




the intimate dependence of all human beings one 
upon another in the emergencies of life. I never 
attained ease of delivery or pleasantness of voice. 
There v^ere times, I am sure, when the audience 
could not follow me at all. Either my voice w^ould 
rise into a queer falsetto, or it v^ould dive down in 
the depths. It shunned the via media. I swallowed 
the very words I especially wanted my listeners to 
hear. I pushed and strained, I pounded. I defeated 
myself with tQo much effort. I committed every sin 
against the dignity and grace of speech. The slightest 
noise I felt in the hall was disconcerting, as I could 
not tell if I was heard or not, and I almost collapsed 
when a chair was moved, or a street car rattled past 
the doors. But the audience was always patient. 
Whether they understood me or not, they showered 
me with good wishes and flowers and encouragement, 
as the Lord loads us with benefits despite our imper- 
fections. Little by little they began to get more of 
what I said. One of my happiest moments was when 
I spoke to a large number of children at a school 
on the East Side in New York, and they were able to 
understand me when I repeated "Mary had a little 
lamb." Always I was compensated for my crippled 
speech by the interest and enthusiasm with which my 
teacher's lecture on my education was received. I was 
told by those who heard her more than once that it 
always seemed as if she were giving her story for the 



first time, she put such freshness and imagination and 
love into it. Sometimes the audience was so silent that 
we were rather disturbed, thinking that we had bored 
them ; but afterwards I found out that they were so 
interested in my teacher's story, they forgot to ap- 
plaud, and we felt it the highest compliment they 
could have paid us. 

At first we lectured only occasionally in New 
England, New York, New Jersey, and other states 
near by, but little by little we began to go farther 
afield. I 

We spoke at the opening of the New York Light- | 
house for the Blind by Henry Holt's beautiful j 
daughter who is now Mrs. Mather. On that occasion \ 
we met President Taft who had a second time left 
his arduous duties in Washington to lift up his voice 
for the cause of the sightless. I shall always picture 
him, big, kind, benevolent, as he exhorted the audi- 
ence, "Let us bring about as nearly as possible equal 
opportunity for the seeing and those who are denied 
the blessings of sight." 

The Lighthouse grew out of one of the happiest 
thoughts of our generation. One day Mrs. Mather 
and her sister saw some blind boys enjoying a con- 
cert in Italy. Others had seen blind persons enjoy 
music, but had not acted upon the suggestions it 
offered. When these two young ladies came back to 
New York they formed a committee for the distri- 



bution among the blind of unsold tickets to concerts. 
Thus they came into contact with the needs of the 
blind, and it was not long before they were asking 
themselves and others why the blind should not be 
employed. They were told that in the world of ma- 
chinery, specialized industry, and keen competition, 
the blind man could not expect to find profitable 
occupation. They were even told that it would be 
cruel to add the burden of labour to the burden of 
infirmity. As if to be without work were not the 
heaviest burden mortal could be called upon to 

They organized the New York Association for the 
Blind and opened the first Lighthouse. The work 
has grown strong and prospered these many years 
under the direction of Mrs. Mather. She tells the 
public, "We do not ask for charity but for justice — 
for an opportunity for your blind brother and sister 
to have a fair chance. Won't you help to give it to 
them, and won't you give yourself the rare oppor- 
tunity of investing in a gift of light? Help us by 
your generosity to approach successfully our ideals of 
service. As that great friend of our organization in 
its early days, Carl Schurz, said: ^Ideals are like 
stars — ^you cannot touch them with your fingers, but 
like the mariner on the desert of waters, you can 
follow them, and following come to port.' " 

In 191 3 I spoke in Washington. I went down 


shortly before the inauguration of Woodow Wilson 
to attend a woman suffrage demonstration and 
stayed through the inauguration because the United 
Press asked me to report the event for its papers. I 
remember that it was a mild, gray day. I felt no sun, 
but a slight breeze. It was good marching weather 
for the troops, and I noticed a delightful smell of 
spring in the air. We waited about two hours before 
the parade began. The crowd was already consider- 
able. It kept increasing, and I felt the masses of 
humanity as they moved up the steps, causing the 
stand to vibrate. It was a clean, good-natured crowd, 
and I enjoyed being in a multitude of men, women, 
and children who were having a good time. I liked 
best of all the rich and far-rolling music of the bands 
and the descriptions my teacher and Mr. Macy gave 
me of the handsome troops. The parade was ornate, 
elaborate, and expensive, but it was very jolly, and 
as regiment after regiment passed I could not help 
wishing that our soldiers never had to do anything 
but look handsome and salute the President. 

I should have been more deeply stirred if I could 
have felt that the great ceremony ushered in a new 
day. For Mr. Wilson himself I had the highest re- 
spect, but I felt, even then, that the forces arrayed 
against him were stronger than he could combat. 

I had met him some years before at Mr. Lawrence 
Mutton's on the occasion of which I have already 


spoken when Mark Twain denounced the murder of 
noncombatants in the Philippines by American sol- 
diers. During the whole of Mr. Clemens's speech 
while the rest of us were listening breathlessly Mr. 
Wilson sat at a window looking out into the night. 
When Mr. Hutton asked him what he thought of it 
he replied something like this: '^Much heroism does 
not always keep military men from committing 
follies." He asked me why I had chosen Radcliffe 
College rather than Wellesley, Smith, or Bryn 
Mawr. I said, "Because they didn't want me at Rad- 
cliffe, and as I was stubborn by nature, I chose to 
override their objections." He asked if I thought a 
personal triumph was worth the expenditure it en- 
tailed. Mr. Wilson was exceedingly reserved, but I 
did not think he was cold. Far from it. He seemed 
like a smouldering fire that might blaze up at any 
moment. I gathered from the conversation round 
Mr. Hutton's table that most of the men thought him 
shrewd, and that his wisdom surpassed that of most 
scholars of the day. 

There is no way of measuring what President 
Wilson might have accomplished for his country if 
the War had not upset the world. History must judge 
the men who are entrusted with power by the bless- 
ings they confer on mankind. It seems like bitter 
irony to ask whether President Wilson did all that 
was possible under the circumstances which sur- 


rounded him. If we judge him by the rule of his 
associates at Versailles, his conduct was not more 
reprehensible than theirs; but if we judge him by 
the standard of his intentions, his failure was colossal. 
Commander-in-chief of a vast and splendidly 
equipped army with inexhaustible resources, and 
head of a country that was the provider and creditor 
of all Europe, it seems as if he might have stood 
steadfast, especially as the good will of the common 
people of all countries was with him. Even if the 
bankers of the world had ultimately forced an un- 
righteous peace upon the belligerents President Wil- 
son would have kept his prestige and the moral 
leadership of the people, and he would have gone 
down in history as one of the noblest champions of 
humanity. As it was, he made compromise with his 
own soul. He lost his health, he lost popular favour, 
and he lost his self-confidence. No one can tell how 
many centuries his failure set back the progress of 
the world ; but only those blinded by hate can doubt 
the nobility of his aims. 

He did not live to see the victory of his cause, but 
he thought and wrote things that no head of a country 
before him had thought and written. The humblest 
and the mightiest of the earth listened to his words, 
which seemed to announce in golden accents a fairer 
morality among nations. The better day which he 
prophesied will come because it must come. Great 


ideals do not attain the summit of our vision in a 
day. Great ideals must be tempered to human under- 
standing, as the wind to the shorn lamb. 

Kipling tells an ancient legend which seems to me 
to apply to President Wilson. A man who wrought 
a most notable deed wished to explain to his tribe 
what he had done. As soon as he began to speak, 
however, he was smitten with dumbness, and sat 
down. Then there arose a man who had taken no 
part in the action, and who had no special virtues, 
but who was gifted with the magic of words. He 
described the merits of the notable deed in such a 
fashion that the words became alive, and walked up 
and down in the hearts of all his hearers. Thereupon 
the tribe, seeing that the words were certainly alive, 
and fearing lest the man with the words would hand 
down untrue tales about them to their children, took 
and killed him. But later they saw that the magic was 
in the words, not in the man. Future generations will 
discover that the power of President Wilson was in 
his words, not in him. 

Chapter VIII 


I DO not remember whether I lectured before or 
after the Inauguration, but I do remember that I 
was introduced by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. It 
was a very happy occasion. This was not the first 
time I had appeared on the platform with him. 
When I was a little girl, just learning to talk, my 
teacher and I used to go with him to conventions to 
further the teaching of speech to the deaf. 

Someone has said that a beautiful memory is the 
most precious wealth one can possess. I am indeed 
rich in happy memories of Dr. Bell. Most people 
know him as the inventor of the telephone ; those who 
are familiar with his work for the deaf, believe that 
what he did for them was as important as his great 
invention. I admired him for both, but I remember 
him not so much as a great inventor or as a great 
benefactor, but as an affectionate and understanding 

I could almost call him my oldest friend. Even 

before my teacher came he held out a warm hand to 

me in the dark; indeed, it was through him that Mr. 

Anagnos sent her to me, but little did he dream, or 



I, that he was to be the medium of God's best gift 
to me. 

From the beginning he enthusiastically approved 
Miss Sullivan's methods in teaching me. In a letter 
to Mr. Macy shortly after The Story of My Life 
was published he says of some letters of hers which 
are printed there in which she tells how she taught 

They reveal the fact that has long been suspected, that Helen's 
remarkable achievements are as much due to the genius of her 
teacher, as to her own brilliant mind. . . . They also prove that 
Miss Sullivan vi^as vrrong vrhen she gave us the impression that 
she acted without method in the instruction of Helen — groping her 
way along and acting only on the spur of the moment. They show 
that she was guided all along by principles of the greatest impor- 
tance in the education of the deaf — that she did have a method, 
and the results have shown that her method was a true one. 

In a letter to Mrs. Macy about the same time, he 
says : 

They are of the greatest value and importance. These letters 
. . . will become a standard, the principles that guided you in the 
early education of Helen are of the greatest importance to all 

Dr. Bell's interest in the deaf did not begin with 
his own life. The science of speech had long been 
studied in the Bell family. Dr. Bell's grandfather 
was the inventor of a device to overcome stammering, 


and his father, Mr. Melville Bell, whom I used 
often to see when I visited the Bells in Washington, 
perfected a system of visible speech as a means of 
teaching the deaf which Dr. Bell considered more 
important than his invention of the telephone, 
though, as Mr. Melville Bell is reported to have 
said, "There was not so much money in it." To learn 
speech by means of it demands more patience than 
our western countries have, but it has been found 
serviceable in the Orient, and his classification of 
speech sounds is the basis of the pronunciation sys- 
tem in the Oxford Dictionary which has just been 

The devotion of Dr. Bell to his father was 
beautiful. How like they were, and how different! 
Melville Bell was the more reposeful and domestic. 
His tastes were simple, and did not change when 
wealth came to his son. He continued to live in the 
same little house in the same contented and frugal 
manner. His breakfast, though he had been many 
years away from Scotland, still consisted of oatmeal 
porridge, which he ate in Scotch fashion, dipping 
the spoon of hot porridge into the bowl of cold milk. 

If anything kept Dr. Bell from visiting his father 
for a day or two, he would say, "Come, I must see 
my father. A chat with him is just the tonic I need." 

In Professor Bell's charming little cottage at 
Colonial Beach at the point where the Potomac 


meets the sea I used often to see these two noble men 
sitting on the porch for hours without speaking a 
word, smoking peacefully and watching the steamers 
and boats pass along the river on their errands of 
service. Sometimes an unusual bird note would attract 
their attention, and the son would ask, ^'How would 
you record that, father?" Then the resources of the 
visible speech system would be tested out, and the 
two men would become absorbed in phonetics, un- 
mindful of everything about them. Every note was 
analyzed and visibly recorded. Occasionally a twitter 
presented difficulties which took hours to solve. 

Both men had an intense desire to remedy every 
defect of enunciation, and I have been told that it 
was a joy to listen to their speech. My teacher often 
spoke of it, and Mr. Watson, Dr. Bell's assistant in 
the invention of the telephone, says, in his book, 
Exploring Life, "His clear, crisp articulation de- 
lighted me, and made other men's speech seem un- 
couth." Both had at various periods been teachers of 
elocution, and both loved to recite. 

Dr. Bell was exceedingly tender to his mother, 
who was quite deaf when I knew her. I recall a 
spring afternoon when Dr. Bell took Miss Sullivan 
and me for a drive in the country. We gathered 
quantities of honeysuckle, pink and white dogwood, 
and wild azaleas. On our way back we stopped to 
give them to Mrs. Melville Bell. Dr. Bell said, "Let 


us go in by the porch door and surprise them." On 
the steps he paused and spelled into my hand, "Hush! 
They are both asleep." We tiptoed about, arrang- 
ing the flowers. It was a picture never to be forgotten 
— those two dear people seated in armchairs, Mrs. 
Bell's white head bowed on her breast, Mr. Bell's 
head thrown back on the chair, his beard and curly 
hair framing his ruddy face like a statue of Zeus. 
We left them undisturbed with the flowers and their 

I was always glad to visit Dr. Bell's family in 
Washington or at their summer home in Cape 
Breton. I admired Mrs. Bell for the courage and 
perseverance with which she conquered her handi- 
cap of deafness. She was a wonderful lip reader, and 
certainly she needed patience, skill, and humour to 
read the lips of the countless visitors who came to 
the house. She never spelled on her fingers because 
she believed that this system of communication iso- 
lated the deaf from normal people. She loved 
beautiful lace and used to hold a filmy web in her 
hands and show me how to trace the woven flowers 
and leaves, the saucy Cupids, the silken winding 
streams, and the lacy criss-cross of fairy paths bor- 
dered with aerial boughs. The two small daughters, 
Elsie and Daisy, were always ready to play with me, 
and Daisy tried to put all the bright things she heard 
into my hand so I could laugh with her. 



There were often distinguished gatherings when 
I was introduced to learned scientists — Professor 
Langley, Professor Newcomb, Major Powell, and 
others. Dr. Bell used to spell what they said to me. 
He always assumed that anyone could understand 
anything. He would explain to me the laws of 
physics or some principle of magnetism; but no 
matter how abstruse his discourse might be, or how 
little of it I understood, I loved to listen to him. 

He was one of those exceptional mortals who can 
never be in a room two minutes before the whole 
talk converges in their direction. People chose to 
listen to him instead of talking. He had an extraordi- 
nary gift of presenting difficult problems in a simple 
and vivid manner, a gift which, in my experience, is 
one of the rarest possessed by human beings. Profes- 
sor Langley did not have it in the slightest degree. 

Dr. Bell was never dogmatic in his conversation. 
He was, I think, the only person I ever knew who 
could look at a subject from a point of view entirely 
different from his own with genuine interest and 
enthusiasm. When it was presented to him he would 
say, "Perhaps you are right. Let us see." 

His gifts as an orator are not known to the public 
in general because he chose to exercise them in behalf 
of an obscure group, living in silence, in whom the 
public interest is not what it should be. But I know 
what eloquent speech is. I have stood beside Dr. Bell 


on the platform and felt speech coming from his lips, 
and eloquence in his voice, his attitude, his gestures 
all at once. Never have I longed more intensely for 
natural speech as on these occasions. After he had 
talked awhile he would touch my arm, I would rise 
and place my hand on his lips to show the audience 
how I could read what he was saying. I wish words 
could portray him as I saw him in those exalted 
moods — the majesty of his presence, the noble and 
spirited poise and action of his head, the strong fea- 
tures partly masked by a beautiful beard that rippled 
and curled beneath my fingers, the inspired expres- 
sion which came into his face when he was deeply 
moved. His splendid head is lifted, his nostrils dilate, 
and his gestures are large, harmonious movements 
of the body, like his thoughts. No one can resist so 
much energy, such power. 

All his life Dr. Bell earnestly advocated the oral 
method of instruction for the deaf. Eloquently he 
pointed out the folly of developing a deaf variety of 
the human race, and showed the economic, moral, 
and social advantages that would result from teach- 
ing them in the public schools with normal children. 
He regarded the sign system as a barrier to the 
acquisition of language and insistently urged its 
abolition. He deplored the segregation and inter- 
marriage of deaf mutes, and felt that so long as their 
only way of communication was through signs and 


the manual alphabet, they would be isolated from 
society and very few of them would ever rise to the 
position of the average intelligent man or woman. 

Yet the manual alphabet and the sign system have 
zealous defenders. They are both easier to acquire, 
but the ultimate results are not comparable to those 
of the oral system by means of which the pupil is 
taught to read the lips and answer in his own voice. 
In my case there was no choice : my additional handi- 
cap of blindness made the use of the manual alphabet 
essential. Later I learned to read the lips, but I think 
my education would have been greatly retarded if I 
had begun with the lip reading in the first place. 

Every teacher of the deaf, no matter what system 
he advocates, has been influenced by Dr. Bell. He 
broadcast his ideas in the truest scientific spirit, with 
no ambitious aim. For a number of years he main- 
tained at his own expense an experimental school in 
Washington where practical work could be carried 
on in finding better ways of teaching very young deaf 
children. He helped Dr. Fay, of Gallaudet College, 
collect statistics concerning the deaf, and it was at 
his suggestion that the American Association for 
Promoting the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf was 
organized in 1890. He contributed twenty-five 
thousand dollars towards its work and was tireless 
in devoting his energy to placing its cause before the 
public. With the money which was given him as the 


Volta prize for his invention of the telephone he 
established the Volta bureau in Washington for the 
dissemination of information regarding the deaf. He 
strove unceasingly to make it possible for every child 
without hearing to acquire speech. 

You who see and hear may not realize that the 
teaching of speech to the deaf is one of the divinest 
miracles of the Nineteenth Century. Perhaps it is 
impossible for one who sees and hears to realize what 
it means to be both deaf and dumb. Ours is not the 
stillness which soothes the weary senses; it is an in- 
human silence which severs and estranges. It is a 
silence not to be broken by a word of greeting, or 
the song of birds, or the sigh of a breeze. It is a 
silence which isolates cruelly, completely. Two hun- 
dred years ago there was not a ray of hope for us. In 
an indifferent world not one voice was lifted in our 
behalf. Yet hearing is the deepest, most humanizing, 
philosophical sense man possesses and lonely ones all 
over the world, because of Dr. Bell's efforts, have 
been brought into the pleasant social ways of man- 

Dr. Bell was a young son of an old country, a self- 
reliant Scot, but so long did he live among us he 
seems our own. His life was singularly free from 
harassments both of temperament and circumstances. 
No allowance was ever needed for the eccentricity or 
waywardness of genius. His nature was too fine to 


breed rivalries or tolerate animosities. I have never 
met anyone v^ho knew Dr. Bell personally who did 
not feel that he had made a lasting impression upon 
his or her life; indeed, his nature was so rich in 
sympathy that it is difficult to speak of him in terms 
which will not seem exaggerated. 
/'^ "Life is extraordinarily interesting!" he used to 
say, especially when we spoke of the telephone. 
"Things happen, but they are not the things we 
thought would happen. We can see clearly enough 
to the turn of the road, but beyond that we do not 
know what surprises may be in store for us." He told 
us how Mrs. Bell, who was not at that time his wife 
but his pupil, persuaded him to go to the Centennial 
Exposition in Philadelphia to exhibit the telephone. 
The time was set for a Sunday afternoon, but when 
the hour arrived, it was hot, the judges were tired, 
and it looked as if there would be no demonstration. 
"But" — Dr. Bell would smile his refulgent smile — 
"but the unexpected may happen at Philadelphia as 
anywhere else. It happened just as I had made up my 
mind to leave the Exposition. At that moment Dom 
Pedro, the Emperor of Brazil, appeared, and recog- 
nizing me as the man he had talked to in Boston 
about methods of teaching the deaf (he was inter- 
ested in establishing schools for the deaf in Brazil 
and was investigating the various methods of teach- 
ing them in the United States), he came towards me, 


holding out his hand. Observing my apparatus, he 
asked me what it was. I told him about it, and that I 
had expected to give an exhibition of it that after- 
noon. 'Well, why not!' the Emperor exclaimed, 'I 
should like to hear it.' " A wire was strung across the 
room. Dr. Bell took the transmitter and told Dom 
Pedro to hold the receiver close to his ear. "My God, 
it talks!" he cried. Then Lord Kelvin took the re- 
ceiver. "Yes, it speaks," he said. The judges took 
turns in listening, and the exhibition lasted until ten 
o'clock that night. The instrument was the centre of 
interest during the remainder of the Exposition. The 
commercial development of the telephone dated from 
that day. 

It was in 1892 when the invention was being con- 
tested in the courts of Boston that I first became 
aware of the telephone. We saw a great deal of Dr. 
Bell in those days. We were staying at Chelsea with a 
friend of ours, Mrs. Pratt, who had assisted him in 
some of his investigations relating to the deaf. When 
the session at court was over he would come for us 
or we would go to the Bellevue Hotel and wait for 
him. It was a strenuous time for him, and we felt it 
incumbent upon us to get him to relax as much as 
possible. He was very fond of the theatre and of 
music, and it was never difficult to persuade him to 
take us to a play or a concert. 

We took many drives in and around Boston, which 


is one of the most delightfully situated of cities, in 
the heart of a beautiful, accessible country. Often we 
went to the shore, and if we could find an old sailor 
to take us out in his boat, Dr. Bell was the happiest 
man alive. 

Naturally, our talk turned frequently to scientific 
matters. In his youth. Dr. Bell was profoundly in- 
terested in the laying of the Atlantic cable. He told 
me vividly how it was laid after many failures and 
discouragements, and how many lives were lost 
before it was finally completed, in 1866. I was twelve 
years old, and that story of heroism and the wonder 
of the human imagination, as told by Dr. Bell, 
thrilled me as a fairy tale thrills other children. I 
still have an impression of words fluttering along 
wires far, far down under the ocean, East and West, 
annihilating time. 

It was Dr. Bell who first spelled into my hand the 
name Charles Darwin. "What did he do?" I asked. 
"He wrought the miracle of the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury," replied Dr. Bell. 

Then he told me about The Origin of Species, and 
how it had widened the horizon of human vision 
and understanding. That achievement also became 
an integral part of my mental equipment. 

He showed us the building where the telephone 
was born and spoke appreciatively of his assistant, 
Mr. Thomas A. Watson, without whom, he said, he 


doubted if the invention would ever have been car- 
ried through. It v^as on March 10, 1876, that Mr. 
Watson, v^ho wsls v^orking in another room, w^as 
startled to hear Dr. Bell's voice say, "Mr. Watson, 
come here, I w^ant you." That was the first audible 
telephone talk. It was as casual and commonplace as 
any of the millions of conversations that go on every 
day over the telephone. I said I wished the first 
sentence transmitted had had more significance. Dr. 
Bell answered, "Helen, time has shown that the 
chief use of the telephone is the repetition of that 
original message. The transmission of the words, 
'Come here, I want you,' to the millions of work- 
aday Watsons is the highest service the telephone 
renders a busy world." 

"Had you been hopeful of the success of the instru- 
ment before that day?" I asked. 

"Oh, yes," said Dr. Bell, "There had been words 
spoken prior to that message. Nevertheless, I was 
filled with astonishment when I learned that Mr. 
Watson had heard my voice." 

Dr. Bell had no telephone in his own study, and 
he used to say somewhat ruefully, "What should be 
done to the man who has destroyed the privacy of 
the home?" And I have heard him say, when people 
spoke admiringly of the invention, "Yes, but I doubt 
if it will ever carry human speech as far as Shake- 
speare and Homer have carried it." 


One evening when we were waiting for a street 
car beside a telephone pole, Dr. Bell placed my hand 
on the weather-smoothed wood and said, "Feel. What 
do the vibrations mean to you — anything?" I had 
never put my hand on a pole before. 

"Does it hum like that all the time?" 

"Yes, all night. That even singing never stops; for 
it is singing the story of life, and life never stops." 
He then described how the wires were strung and 
insulated, and explained many other details that I 
suppose everyone except a blind girl would know 
about, and he said, "Those copper wires up there are 
carrying the news of birth and death, war and finance, 
failure and success from station to station around the 
world. Listen! I fancy I hear laughter, tears, love's 
vows broken and mended." 

This reminds me of another time when we were 
walking in the rain and he asked me if I had ever 
felt a tree when it was raining. He put my hand on 
the trunk of a small oak, and I was astonished to feel 
a delicate murmur — a silvery whisper, as if the leaves 
were telling each other a lot of little things. I have 
often touched trees since when raindrops were de- 
scending in little pearly columns from every twig 
and leaf. They feel like elves laughing. 

On these walks and drives Dr. BelPs mind spread 
out restfully. Snatches of poetry, anecdotes, reminis- 
cences of Scotland, descriptions of Japan, which 



he had visited some years earlier, flowed through 
his skillful fingers into my hand. He loved Portia's 
speech on the quality of mercy, and he once told me 
that his favourite quotation was Dryden's paraphrase 
of Horace: 

Happy the man, and happy he alone, 
He, who can call to-day his own; 
He who, secure within, can say, 
To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day; 
Be fair or foul or rain or shine. 
The joys I have possessed, in spite of Fate, are mine 

Not heaven itself upon the past has power. 
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour. 

The period of litigation lasted a number of years — 
eight, I believe. The case was finally decided in Dr. 
BelFs favour by the Supreme Court of the United 
States. When Dr. Bell died it was estimated that 
there were twelve million telephones in use in the 
world, and it has been said that the basic patent which 
he received on his twenty-ninth birthday was the most 
valuable patent ever issued. 

I saw Dr. Bell soon after the New York to San 
Francisco telephone line was opened. Telephone 
lines had by that time connected nearly all parts of 
the country. Mr. Watson was in San Francisco and 
Dr. Bell was in New York. The same sentence was 
repeated : 

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want you." 


''He heard me," said Dr. Bell, ''but he did not 
come immediately. It is not long now, however, be- 
fore men will be able to appear from across the con- 
tinent within a few hours after they are summoned." 
He said that the transatlantic flight would some 
time be made in one day. I thought of him when 
Lindbergh flew across in thirty-three and a half 

Of course Dr. Bell experienced the annoyance as 
well as the happiness of having done something that 
his fellow creatures appreciated. Wherever he went 
he was approached by people who wished to shake 
hands with the man who made the telephone. Once 
he spelled to me, "One would think I had never done 
anything worth while but the telephone. That is be- 
cause it is a money-making invention. It is a pity 
so many people make money the criterion of success. 
I wish my experiments had resulted in enabling the 
deaf to speak with less difficulty. That would have 
made me truly happy." 

Dr. Bell was interested in many other inventions 
besides the telephone — the gramophone, the photo- 
phone, and an induction balance. He invented a tele- 
phone probe which was used to locate the bullet that 
killed President Garfield. 

When he wished to work on one of his theories or 
inventions he would retire to Beinn Breagh, Cape 
Breton, or to his retreat near Washington, or to a 


cocoanut grove in Florida — the home of his daughter, 
Mrs. Fairchild. ''I must have perfect quiet," he 
v^ould say, ''but that is no easy thing to secure in this 
busy world." Once he remarked, "The telephone is 
the man Friday's footprint on the sands of life. 
Wherever we go, it reminds us that no man can live 
wholly alone." 

When our paths lay in different courses I used to 
write to him now and then. Knowing how absorbed 
he was in his work I never expected an answer, but 
I never wrote without receiving one. I did not ex- 
pect him to read my books, but he always did, and 
wrote to me about them in such a way that I knew 
he considered me a capable human being and not 
some sort of pitiable human ghost groping its way 
through the world. 

'Tou must not," he wrote after he had read The 
W orld I Live /w/'put me among those who think that 
nothing you have to say about affairs of the universe 
would be interesting. I must confess I should like to 
know what you think of the tariff, the conservation 
of our natural resources, or the conflicts which re- 
volve about the name of Dreyfus. I would also like 
to know how you would propose to reform the edu- 
cational system of the world. I want to see you come 
out of yourself and write of the great things outside. 
The glimpse you give us into your own world is so 
fascinating and interesting that I would like to hear 


what you have to say of things outside." He after- 
wards greeted my Song of the Stone Wall with de- 
light because ''it is another achievement demonstrat- 
ing that you are not exiled from our world of beauty 
and music." Is it any wonder that I loved him? 

It was a part of his joyous nature that he loved 
to give and receive surprises. I remember a letter I 
had one morning shortly before my teacher was mar- 
ried. On the outside was written "A Secret for Helen 
Keller" and under that, "I don't want Miss Sullivan 
or Mr. Macy to read this note. Let someone else 
read it to Helen." I took the letter to Lenore, who 
was staying with us at the time, and she read me that 
Dr. Bell had sent a check for me to get my teacher a 
wedding present. "The trouble is," he said, "I don't 
know what would please her and I want someone 
to help me. Why not you? I enclose a check payable 
to your order and would be very much pleased if 
you could spend the money for me on a wedding 
present for Miss Sullivan and not tell her anything 
about it until you give her the present for me." 

We went off to Boston that very day and ex- 
amined the beautiful things gathered into the shops 
from all over the world. Finally we selected a clock 
which struck the hours with a soft chime. I had not 
spent all the money. So we went back the next day, 
and I chose a silver coffee urn. Dr. Bell was much 
amused when I wrote him about the two gifts. He 


said he could see that I had some of the "canny Scot" 
in me. 

It is strange what things crowd into the mind as 
one writes about a beloved friend. Little incidents 
that I have not thought of in years come back to me 
now as if they had been written on the pages of my 
mind in secret ink. I remember that first visit of ours 
to Washington on our way to the Perkins Institution, 
after my teacher had been with me a year, but curi- 
ously enough it is not so much Dr. Bell who stands 
out in my mind as it is President Cleveland. I was a 
demonstrative, affectionate child, and my first 
thought was to kiss the President. Not understanding 
my intentions, or perhaps understanding them only 
too well, he pushed me away. I am ashamed to con- 
fess that I was never able to see much good in Cleve- 
land's administration after that. 

Dr. Bell was very fond of animals and we used 
to go to visit the "zoo" together, not only in Wash- 
ington but in other cities where we were attending 
meetings for the advancement of the deaf. Once when 
I was a little girl — I think it was on my fourteenth 
birthday — he gave me a cockatoo which I called 
Jonquil because of his glorious yellow crest. Jon- 
quil was a beauty, but he was a menace armoured 
in lovely white and gold feathers. He used to perch 
on my foot as I read, rocking back and forth as I 
turned the pages. Every now and then he would hop 


to my shoulder and rub his head against my ear and 
face, sometimes putting his long, sharp, hooked bill 
in my mouth, sending ripples of terror down my 
spine. Then he would dart off, screeching fiendishly, 
to alight on the back of a dog or the head of a per- 
son. After a while my father tried to give him away, 
but his fame had spread so far that no one would 
take him. Finally, the owner of a saloon in Tus- 
cumbia gave him shelter. I don't know what hap- 
pened to him after the passage of the eighteenth 

Dr. Bell was always eager for adventure — night or 
day, no matter what the weather was like. "Hoy, 
Ahoy!" was his call for his friends and associates, 
and one they were always delighted to answer. 

I remember an evening in Pittsburgh when we 
drove along the embankment of the river to see the 
spectacular display of fireworks when the furnaces 
made their periodic runs. I shall never forget how 
excited Dr. Bell was when the show began. We were 
chatting about the enormous industries which make 
Pittsburgh one of the great cities of the world when 
Dr. Bell jumped up exclaiming, "The river is on 
fire!" Indeed, the whole world appeared to be on 
fire. Out of the big, red, gaping mouths of the fur- 
naces leaped immense streams of flame which 
seemed to fan the very clouds into billows of fire. 
Around the huge shaft-necks of the furnaces they 


flung rosy arms. As the columns ascended, the stars 
blushed as if a god had kissed them. The shoulder 
of the moon turned pink as she threw a scarlet scarf 
over her head. More and more curtains of scarlet, 
crimson, and red gold unroll, cloud mixes with cloud, 
fold tangles in fold, until the sky is an undulating 
sea of flame. Miss Sullivan and Dr. Bell spell into 
my hands, again and again erasing their words, 
searching their memories for phrases and similes to 
describe the scene. "A cataract of pink steam!" one 
would say, "it bubbles and drips through the air." 
"There goes a crimson geyser licking up the night!" 
said the other. "A molten rod of hot iron ducks into 
a black hole like a rabbit." "There are silvery 
grottoes and caves of ebony and abysses of blackness 
beyond the river bank." "The belching furnace must 
be part of the central fires of earth." Every few 
seconds there was a flare of fiery cinders resembling 
"Greek Fire." Between the red flames and the black 
wall of the furnace moved the shadowy forms of 
men, the slaves of the insatiable beast which roared 
into darkness and spread flamingo wings upon the 

When my teacher and I visited the Bells at their 
Beinn Breagh home near Baddeck the summer after 
my first year at Radcliffe Dr. Bell's leading scientific 
interest was aeronautics. He had built a huge tetra- 
hedral kite with which he hoped to establish some 


new principles in the art of flying. The kite never 
achieved the success he thought it would ; but we had 
no end of fun with it. He appointed me his chief 
adviser, and would never loose a kite until I had 
examined the cables and imparted the information 
that they could stand the strain. Once, while I was 
holding the cable, someone released the kite from 
its moorings, and I was nearly carried out to sea 
hanging to it. Dr. Bell insisted that I should wear a 
helmet and a waterproof bathing suit, just as he 
did, so that we might be ready for any emergency. 
"You can never know what perverse idea a kite may 
get into its head," he would spell to me seriously. 
"We must always be ready to outwit it." Once in a 
while he would pause to report, "We are getting on 
swimmingly." This was not infrequently true; for a 
recalcitrant breeze would catch us, and we would 
find ourselves swimming, not in the air, but in the 
"Bras d'Or." I do not think I ever saw Dr. Bell dis- 
couraged. He was always ready to jest about his ex- 
perimental misfortunes. 

It was about this time that Professor Langley 
visited Beinn Breagh. Our talk was chiefly about 
aviation. My teacher and I would accompany them 
in an observation boat, and hour after hour either 
Miss Sullivan or Dr. Bell spelled to me what they 
were talking about. I was interested because they 
were though I did not understand much of what 


they discussed. They were terribly scientific and 
mathematical. But I have had occasion to observe 
that men v^ho are doing important things like to talk 
about their problems to a sympathetic listener even 
though he is quite ignorant of the subject. 

One of the playthings at Beinn Breagh was an old 
houseboat, permanently anchored on a strip of shore 
about a mile from Dr. Bell's house. It had one foot 
in the "Bras d'Or," on the starboard side, and on 
the lee side it looked into a fresh pond. There were 
some beds and plenty of blankets in the cabin, and 
food was kept in the locker, so that anyone who 
wished to could sleep there. 

One time there were a number of guests staying 
at the house, and from their talk one might have 
thought they were holding a scientific congress. Miss 
Sullivan, Daisy, Elsie, and I decided to spend the 
night on the boat. It was a gloriously clear summer 
evening, and we were as eager for adventure as young 
dogs for the chase. We started early, hurrying down 
the path that led along the shore to the boat, so that 
we could eat our supper on deck at sunset while the 
"Bras d'Or" lay in golden splendour. What an ex- 
perience it was to be part of such an enchanting 
scene with two beautiful girls, who thoroughly en- 
joyed the fun. Daisy kept spelling to me the ex- 
quisite tints of sky and water until it was dark, and a 
proiouiid silence descended upon us — a silence only 


broken by the lapping of the waves, which gave a 
tongue to solitude. 

When the moon rose, trembling with excitement, 
we got down into the lake by means of a rope ladder. 
There we were, we four alone with ourselves and 
perfection of water and moonlight! The air was 
quite cold ; but the water was deliciously warm, and 
our joy knew no bounds. Then what a scramble 
we had up the ladder to see who could get to her 
blankets first! We were up at dawn. As we came 
out on the deck a storm of gulls burst from the 
island, veering and wheeling above the lake, in whose 
golden arms day, like a mermaid, was combing out 
the bright strands of her hair. At that hour there were 
great flocks of gulls shaking the sleep out of their 
wings before diving into the water for their breakfast. 
It was a magnificent picture — worth lying awake to 
see, and we had slept lightly, so as not to miss any- 
thing. Many years have passed since, but that happy 
night in the old houseboat is as bright in my re- 
membrance as the stars which filled the sky. 

Another time when we were at the houseboat. Dr. 
Bell and Professor Newcomb, the astronomer, came 
down and sat with us on deck. It was one of those 
magical evenings of the north when the moon weaves 
a bright chain of light across the waters, and the 
''queen of propitious stars" appears amid falling 
dew. The bosom of the lake rose and fell softly, like 


the breast of a sleeping infant, and the winds wan- 
dered to us with fragrant sighs from mountain and 
meadow. All the world seemed to be left to the 
stars and to us. 

It was one of the evenings that smile upon fancy, 
friendship, and science, and high hopes. Professor 
Newcomb talked about eclipses and comets, the 
Leonidas meteor showers which I believe occur only 
once in a century, and astronomical calculations, 
while Dr. Bell interpreted all he said to me. Once he 
paused and said, "Helen, do you know that when a 
star is shattered in the heavens, its light travels a 
million years or so before it reaches our earth?" I 
had never had the sense of being utterly lost in the 
vastitudes of the universe which I experienced that 
night as I listened to the mysteries of sidereal 
phenomena. I thought of Blanco White's lines, 

Who could have thought that such darkness lay concealed 
Within thy beams, O sun? Or who could find 
That while leaf and fly and insect stood revealed, 
To such countless orbs thou madest us blind ? 

It has ever been thus with me — that the wonder- 
fulness of life and creation grows with each day I 

The last evening of my visit at Beinn Breagh, 
Dr. Bell and I were together on the piazza, while 
Mrs. Bell was showing some pictures of Cape Bre- 


ton to Miss Sullivan in the library. Dr. Bell was in 
a dreamy mood, and spelled his thoughts into my 
hand, half poetry, half philosophy. He was weary 
after a long day of experiments ; but his mind would 
not rest, or rather, it found sweet rest in the poets 
he had read as a young man. He recited favourite 
passages from "In Memoriam," 'The Tempest," 
and "Julius Caesar," and I remember with what 
earnestness he repeated, "There is a tide in the 
affairs of men," and ended by saying, "Helen, I do 
not know if, as those lines teach, we are masters of 
our fate. I doubt it. The more I look at the world, the 
more it puzzles me. We are forever moving towards 
the unexpected." 

"When I was a young man," he continued, "I loved 
music passionately, and I wanted to become a musi- 
cian. But fate willed otherwise. Ill health brought 
me to America. Then I became absorbed in experi- 
ments with an instrument that developed into the 
telephone, and now here I am giving my days and 
nights to aeronautics. And all the time you know 
that my chief interest is the education of the deaf. 
No, Helen, I have not been master of my fate— not 
in the sense of choosing my work." He paused and 
went on, "Your limitations have placed you before 
the world in an unusual way. You have learned to 
speak, and I believe you are meant to break down 
the barriers which separate the deaf from mankind. 

Miss Keller, Miss Sullivan and Dr. Bell, Nova Scotia, igoi. 


There are unique tasks waiting for you, an unique 

I told him my teacher and I intended to live in 
some retreat ^'from public haunt exempt" when I 
graduated from college, and then I hoped to write. 

"It is not you, but circumstances, that will de- 
termine your work," he said. ''We are only instru- 
ments of the powers that control the universe. Re^ 
member, Helen, do not confine yourself to any par- 
ticular kind of self-expression. Write, speak, study, 
do whatever you possibly can. The more you accom- 
plish, the more you will help the deaf everywhere." 

After a long pause he said, "It seems to me, Helen, 
a day must come when love, which is more than 
friendship, will knock at the door of your heart and 
demand to be let in." 

"What made you think of that?" I asked. 

"Oh, I often think of your future. To me you are a 
sweet, desirable young girl, and it is natural to think 
about love and happiness when we are young." 

"I do think of love sometimes," I admitted; "but 
it is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, 
but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of de- 
light just the same." 

He sat silent for a minute or two, thought- 
troubled, I fancied. Then his dear fingers touched 
my hand again like a tender breath, and he said, "Do 
not think that because you cannot see or hear, you 


are debarred from the supreme happiness of woman. 
Heredity is not involved in your case, as it is in so 
many others." 

"Oh, but I am happy, very happy!" I told him. 
"I have my teacher and my mother and you, and 
all kinds of interesting things to do. I really don't 
care a bit about being married." 

"I know," he answered, ''but life does strange 
things to us. You may not always have your mother, 
and in the nature of things Miss Sullivan will marry, 
and there may be a barren stretch in your life when 
you will be very lonely." 

"I can't imagine a man wanting to marry me," I 
said. "I should think it would seem like marrying a 

"You are very young," he replied, patting my 
hand tenderly, "and it's natural that you shouldn't 
take what I have said seriously now : but I have long 
wanted to tell you how I felt about your marrying, 
should you ever wish to. If a good man should de- 
sire to make you his wife, don't let anyone persuade 
you to forego that happiness because of your peculiar 

I was glad when Mrs. Bell and Miss Sullivan 
joined us, and the talk became less personal. 

Years later Dr. Bell referred to that conversation. 
Miss Sullivan and I had gone to Washington to tell 


him of her intention to marry John Macy. He said 
playfully, ''I told you, Helen, she would marry. Are 
you going to take my advice now and build your 
own nest?" 

"No," I answered, "I feel less inclined than ever 
to embark upon the great adventure. I have fully 
made up my mind that a man and a woman must be 
equally equipped to weather successfully the vicis- 
situdes of life. It would be a severe handicap to any 
man to saddle upon him the dead weight of my 
infirmities. I know I have nothing to give a man 
that would make up for such an unnatural burden." 
And I repeated Elizabeth Barrett Browning's son- 

What can I give thee back, O liberal 
And princely giver, who has brought the gold 
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold, 
And laid them on the outside of the wall 
For such as I to take or leave withal, 
In unexpected largess? Am I cold. 
Ungrateful, that for these most manifold 
High gifts, I render nothing back at all? 
Not so ; not cold — but very poor instead. 

"You will change you mind some day, young 
woman, if the right man comes a-wooing." And I 
almost did — but that is another story. 

The last time I saw Dr. Bell he had just returned 


from a visit to Edinburgh. For the first time he 
seemed melancholy. This was in, I think, 1920. He 
said he had found himself a stranger in a strange 
land, and that it seemed good to get back to America. 
The War had left its cruel scar upon his spirit. I felt 
the lines of sorrow graven upon his noble features; 
but I thought a smile had fallen asleep in them. He 
told us he was going to work on hydroplanes the re- 
mainder of his life. He prophesied that in less than 
ten years there would be an air service between New 
York and London. He said there would be hangars 
on the tops of tall buildings, and people would use 
their own planes as they do automobiles now. He 
thought freight could be carried by air cheaper than 
by rail or steamships. He also predicted that the 
next war would be fought in the air, and that sub- 
marines would be more important than battleships 
or cruisers. 

Dr. Bell also foresaw a day when methods would 
be discovered by engineers to cool off the tropics 
and bring the heated air into cold lands which need 
it. He told me that beneath the warm surface of the 
tropic seas flow currents of icy cold water from the 
Arctic and Antarctic regions, and he said that in 
some way these streams would be brought up to the 
surface, thus changing the climate of hot countries 
and rendering them pleasanter to live and work in. 
His wonderful prophecies set my heart beating fas- 


ter; but little did I dream that in six years I should 
read of French engineers laying plans to capture 
the ocean as an ally against climates inimical to 

We felt very sad when we said good-bye to him. 
I had a presentiment that I should not see him again 
in this life. 

He died at his summer home on August 3, 1922, 
He was buried at sunset on the crest of Cape Beinn 
Breagh Mountain, a spot chosen by himself. Once 
he had pointed out that spot to me, and quoted 
Browning's verse: 

''Here is the place, Helen, where I shall sleep 
the last sleep" — 

Where meteors shoot, clouds form, 
Lightnings are loosened, 
Stars come and go ! 

Sunset was chosen as the time for burial because 
at that moment the sun enfolds the lakes in its arms 
of gold, which is what the name "Bras d'Or" means. 

If there were no life beyond this earth-life, some 
people I have known would gain immortality by the 
nobility of our memory of them. With every friend 
I love who has been taken into the brown bosom of 
the earth a part of me has been buried there; but 
their contribution of happiness, strength, and under- 


Standing to my being remains to sustain me in an 
altered world. Although life has never seemed the 
same since we read in the paper that Alexander 
Graham Bell was dead, yet the mist of tears is re- 
splendent with the part of himself that lives on in me. 

Chapter IX 


After the lecture in Washington at which Dr. Bell 
introduced me I spoke in a few other places, includ- 
ing Richmond, Virginia, before I returned to Wrent- 
ham. My teacher and I were tired and discouraged, 
and very uncertain about the future. 

Our financial difficulties increased. At the time of 
my teacher's marriage, Mr. Rogers had cut his an- ^ i^oS, 
nuity in half. I had thought that I would be able to 
make enough with my pen to supply the deficiency, 
but there were too many interruptions and I was an- 
noyed at having always to write about myself. The 
editors of the magazines said, "Do not meddle with 
those matters not related to your personal experi- 
ence." I found myself utterly confined to one sub- 
ject — myself, and it was not long before I had ex- 
hausted it. 

Financial difficulties have seemed nearly always 
an integral part of our lives, and from time to time 
many people have tried to help us extricate our- 
selves from them. I do not know just when Mr. 
Carnegie began to take an interest in my affairs, but 
late in 1910, when he learned through our friend^ 



Lucy Derby Fuller, of our difficulties, he came to 
my aid with characteristic promptness and gen- 
erosity. A few days after she talked with him he 
wrote her that he had arranged an annuity for me. 

It had been done without my knowledge or con- 
sent, and I declined as gracefully as I could. I was 
young and proud, and still felt that I could suc- 
ceed alone. Mr. Carnegie suggested that I give 
the matter further consideration, and assured me that 
the annuity was mine whenever I wanted it. "Mrs. 
Carnegie and I gladly go on probation," he said. So 
the matter rested for about two years. 

In the spring of 1913, when my teacher and I 
were in New York, we called on the Carnegies at 
their invitation. I shall never forget how kind they 
were. They made me feel that they wanted to help 
me. Mrs. Carnegie was very sweet, and I liked Mr. 
Carnegie. Their daughter, Margaret, a lovely 
young girl of sixteen, came into the library while we 
were talking. "Margaret is the philanthropist here," 
Mr. Carnegie said, as she put her hand in mine. "She 
is the good fairy that whispers in my ear that I must 
make somebody happy." 

Over a cup of tea wc conversed on many subjects. 
Mr. Carnegie asked me if I still refused his annuity. 
I said, "Yes, I haven't been beaten yet." He said he 
understood my attitude and sympathized with it. 
But he called my attention to the fact that fate had 


added my burden to that of those who were living 
with me, and that I must think of them as well as of 
myself. It had weighed heavily upon my heart, but 
no one with great power of giving had ever re- 
minded me that I was responsible for the welfare of 
those I loved. He told me again that the annuity was 
mine whenever I would take it, and asked me if it 
was true that I had become a Socialist. 

When I admitted that it was true he found many 
disparaging things to say about Socialists, and even 
threatened to take me across his knees and spank me 
if I did not come to my senses. 

"But a great man like you should be consistent," I 
urged. "You believe in the brotherhood of man, in 
peace among nations, in education for everybody. 
All those are Socialist beliefs." I promised to send 
him my book. Out of the Dark, in which I tell how I 
became a Socialist. 

He asked me what I lectured about. I said hap- 
piness. "A good subject," was his comment. "There's 
plenty of happiness in the world, if people would 
only look for it." He then asked me how much the 
people who engaged me sold the tickets for. I told 
him a dollar and a dollar and a half. "Too much, 
far too much," he said, "you would make more money 
if you charged fifty cents — not more than seventy- 
five cents as a limit." 

Mr. Carnegie asked why I didn't write more. I 


told him I did not find writing easy, that I was very- 
slow, and there were few subjects editors thought 
me capable of writing about. He said he didn't think 
writing was easy for anyone, except in rare moments 
of inspiration. "Labour must go into anything that's 
worth while. Burns is said to have dashed off 'A 
man's a man for a' that' in a jiffy, but I don't be- 
lieve it. Anyhow, years of thinking on injustice pre- 
ceded the miracle. I tell you, Burns's life is in that 

He showed us a portrait of Gladstone, whom he 
admired tremendously. "You know, the great English 
statesman was a Scot." I said I did not know it. Mr. 
Carnegie seemed surprised that I knew so little about 
Gladstone. I said he was the sort of a man that bored 
me, and that I couldn't be enthusiastic about him, 
even when he acted nobly. "Perhaps his being a 
Scot has something to do with your admiration," I 
remarked. "May be," he said. "Blood is thicker than 
water, and it's much thicker in Scotland than any- 
where else. I tell thee, Scoffer, he was one of the 
greatest men of our age. He was seventy when I 
saw him, and Milton's lines came into my mind : 

"With grave Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed 
A pillar of state ; deep on his front engraven 
Deliberation sat, and public care; 
And princely counsel in his face yet shone, 
Majestic, though in ruin," 

Mr. Carnegie was also a great admirer of Queen 
Victoria. I told him that if he had said to her all 
the flattering things he was saying about her, she 
would have given him two garters — Disraeli's and 
her own. He gave a very animated description of a 
birthday party at Windsor when Victoria was 
seventy-something. The Queen was presented with a 
silver ornament encrusted with birds and flowers. I 
cannot remember whether it was Mr. Carnegie's gift, 
or not. Anyway, Her Majesty surprised everyone at 
the table by rising and thanking her friends very 

Mr. Carnegie was fond of Gray's "Elegy," and 
told me he had visited Gray's tomb. He quoted the 
inscription on the grave of the poet's mother : 

Dorothy Gray, 
the careful, tender mother of many children, one of 
whom alone had the misfortune to survive her. 

He asked me if I knew the words that Carlyle had 
graven on his wife's tomb. I did not; but I read them 
from Mr. Carnegie's lips, "And he feels that the 
light of his life has gone out." Mr. Carnegie was a 
walking anthology of verse. He constantly quoted 
Browning, Shakespeare, Burns, Wordsworth, and 
Walter Scott. One of his favourite quotations, and 
one which he recited with fine feeling, was Portia's 
speech beginning "The Quality of mercy is not 


Strained." These lines were often on Dr. Bell's lips 

Mr. Carnegie was quite an actor, too. With fire in 
his eye he would declaim, 

Know this, the man who injured Warwick 
Never passed uninjured yet. 

On one occasion — I think it was the first afternoon 
I was with him — he led me around his library and 
study, and shoWed me the innumerable jewel boxes 
containing the thanks of towns and cities which had 
accepted his gift of a library. He called my atten- 
tion to the exquisite workmanship of these boxes ; one 
of them, I remember, had his name set in jewels. A 
letter he was especially proud of was from King 
Edward, expressing appreciation of something Mr. 
Carnegie had given, I cannot recall what it was. 

He told me about walking through southern Eng- 
land when he was a boy with a knapsack on his back. 
He enjoyed the trip so much that he promised him- 
self that if his ship ever came in he would drive 
a party of his friends from Brighton to Inverness. 
The idea took possession of him. It became his castle 
in Spain, and in the eighties he was able to attain it. 

He said his idea of wealth when he was a young 
man was fifteen hundred dollars a year — enough to 
live on and keep his parents comfortable in their old 
age. "But fate gave me thousands more than that. 


The fickle goddess does that sometimes, and laughs 
in her sleeve." 

I said, "Fate has been very good to you, Mr. Car- 
negie, in that your dream came true when you were 
young and full of the joy of life." 

"That's it," he replied eagerly, "I'm the happiest 
mortal alive, only sometimes I can't believe it's 
true. You see, I never thought in my wildest flights 
of fancy that the dream would assume the princely 
proportions it has." 

He said, "I spend a good deal of time in the gar- 
den. Out there I feel as if 'the air had blossomed into 
joy.' Can you tell me who said that?" 

"It sounds like Shelley," I said. 

"Wrong!" he triumphed. "It was Robert Inger- 
soll. He said when he saw the American flag in a 
foreign land, 'I felt the air had blossomed into joy.' 
Who told the southern Confederacy, 'There is not 
air enough upon the American continent to float two 
flags?' " 

"Ingersoll," I shot back, without having the faint- 
est idea who said it. Mr. Carnegie patted me saying, 
"You've got a head on your shoulders, I see." 

Mr. Andrew Carnegie was an optimist. I thought 
I was one dyed-in-the-wool until I met him. "A pes- 
simist has a poisoned tongue," he declared. "I would 
banish every one of them to Siberia if I had the 
power. Good cheer is worth money," 


^'Not very much," I teased him. 'Tou told me 
my lecture on happiness was worth only fifty cents." 

Some callers happened in while we were there. 
He introduced me to one gentleman as "one of the 
twelve men I have made millionaries," and then 
added, "Life is much more interesting and worth 
while since I left money-making to these fellows. I 
wouldn't have had any time for you in the old days, 
Helen. I have changed my views about many things 
since I have had time to think." 

After our call on the Carnegies my teacher and 
I continued our lectures. Mrs. Macy was far from 
well. She was still convalescing from a major opera- 
tion which she had undergone in the autumn. But we 
hoped we could keep things going by our own efforts, 
especially if I could write a few articles during the 

We both appreciated Mr. Carnegie's desire to 
assist me, and still more the insight and sympathy 
with which he understood our motives in declining 
his offer. Mrs. Carnegie was as tender as he, and I 
remember a letter which I had from her in De- 
cember after our visit in which she says that she 
hopes I will let them prove their friendship for me. 

The first of April brought me face to face with 
the necessity of surrender. We were in Maine filling 
a lecture engagement. When we reached Bath, the 
weather turned suddenly cold. The next morning my 


teacher awoke very ill. We were alone in a strange 
place. My helplessness terrified me. With the as- 
sistance of the manager of the hotel we got on the 
train and went home. A week later I wrote Mr. 
Carnegie telling him what had happened, and con- 
fessing my folly in not letting him assist me. The re- 
turn mail brought a warm-hearted letter from him, 
enclosing a check which I was to get semi-annually. 
I will quote part of it here : 

The fates are kind to us indeed — I thought that text of mine 
would reach your brain and penetrate your heart. "There are a 
few great souls who can rise to the height of allowing others 
to do for them what they would like to do for others." And so 
you have risen. I am happy indeed — one likes to have his words 
of wisdom appreciated. Remember Mrs. Carnegie and I are the 
two to be thankful, for it is beyond question more blessed to give 
than receive. 

I cannot pretend that it was not humiliating to 
surrender, even to such a kind and gracious friend. 
Like Jude, I can say, "It was my poverty and not my 
will that consented to be beaten." 

For some time the lack of money had been only a 
small part of our worry. Mr. Macy was considering 
leaving us. He had wearied of the struggle. He had 
many reasons for wishing to go. I can write about 
that tense period of suffering only in large terms. 
There is nothing more difficult, I think, than to re- 
construct situations which have moved us deeply. 

Time invariably disintegrates the substance of most 
experiences and reduces them to intellectual abstrac- 
tions. Many of the poignant details elude any attempt 
to restate them. It is not merely the difficulty of 
recapturing emotions, it is almost equally difficult 
to define attitudes, or to describe their effects upon 
others. They are, as it were, in solution, or if they 
do crystallize, they appear different to the persons 
concerned. It seems to me, it is impossible to an- 
alyze honestly the subtle motives of those who have 
influenced our lives, because we cannot complete the 
creative process with the freshness of the situation 
clinging to it. Analysis is as destructive of emotion as 
of the flower which the botanist pulls to pieces. As I 
recall the Wrentham years, they appear to my im- 
agination surrounded by an aura of feeling. Words, 
incidents, acts, stir in my memory, awakening com- 
plicated emotions, and many strings vibrate with joy 
and pain. I shall not try to resolve those experiences 
into their elements. 

Chapter X 

n ' I- 

ON ''the open road" 

During the autumn of 191 3 we were for the first 
time constantly on the road. It was pleasant to find 
myself generally known, and people glad to come to 
hear me, but it was hard to accustom myself to the 
strangeness of public life. At home I had always been 
where I could breathe the woodland air. My life had 
been as it were "between the budding and the fall- 
ing leaf," and I had felt along my veins the thrill of 
vine and blossom. Winter and spring had brought me 
wind-blown messages across marsh, brook, and stone- 
walled field. I had felt 

God's great freedom all around, 
And free life's song the only sound. 

All such peaceful, expansive sensations cannot be 
enjoyed in the throbbing whirl of a train, the rattle 
of lurching taxis, or the confinement of hotels and 
lecture halls. 

I have never been able to accustom myself to hotel 
life. The conventional atmosphere wearies me, and 
there is no garden where I can run out alone and 
sense the wings of glorious days passing by. At such 



times I am painfully aware of the lack of personal 
liberty which, next to idleness, is the hardest part of 
being blind. 

When one sees and hears, one can watch the 
pageant of life from the city building or the rushing 
train. The features and colours of one landscape 
blend with those of another, so that there is a con- 
tinuity of things visible and audible. A succession of 
faces, voices, noises, changes in the sky, carry on the 
story of life, and lessen the effect of loneliness and 
fatigue. But when I go from one place to another, I 
leave suddenly the surroundings that have become 
familiar to me through touch and daily association 
and I cannot readily orientate myself in a strange 
locality. I am conscious of the same kind of remote- 
ness one senses out at sea, far from all signs of land ; 
and on my first tours this feeling was quite oppres- 
sive. I missed the charm of the roads I had walked 
over — the ripples of the earth and billows of grass 
underfoot, the paths trod by men and horses and the 
ruts made by wheels, the dust from automobiles and 
other tangible signs of life. But after a while I 
learned to enjoy the rhythmic vibration of the train 
as it sped over long distances. In the swift, steady 
motion my body found rest, and my mind kept pace 
with the stretch of the horizon and the ever shifting 
clouds. I could not tell which interested me most, the 
excitement of departure from a city, or the rush over 


great plains and undulating country, or the arrival at 
the next lecture with hope of accomplishment in my 
heart. Everyone seemed eager to show us attention, 
and all along the road we were shown appreciation 
in ways which touched and pleased us, but we could 
not take part in the social functions that were ar- 
ranged for us or even meet many of the people who 
called. It would have been too great a tax upon 
human strength. 

Social functions have always been trying for me. 
I confess I never feel quite at ease at them. I know 
that nearly everybody has heard of me, and that 
people want to see me, just as we all want to see 
places and persons and objects we have heard a 
great deal about. I have been meeting and talking 
to strangers ever since I was eight years old, but even 
now I can seldom think of anything to say. The diffi- 
culty of presenting people to me through the medium 
of hand-spelling sometimes causes me embarrass- 
ment and confusion. But I feel certain that theSe 
functions must have a useful purpose which I can- 
not understand. Otherwise we should not tolerate the 
absurdity of shaking hands with hundreds of curi- 
ous human creatures whom we have never seen, 
and will in all probability never see again. 

I do not know a more disturbing sensation than 
that of being ceremoniously ushered into the pres- 
ence of a company of strangers who are also celeb- 

rities, especially if you have physical limitations 
which make you dififerent. As a rule, when I am in- 
troduced to such people, they are excessively con- 
scious of my limitations. When they try to talk to me, 
and find that their words have to be spelled into my 
hand, their tongues cleave to the roofs of their 
mouths and they become speechless. And I am quite 
as uncomfortable as they are. I know that I should 
have clever things to say which would tide over the 
embarrassing moment, but I cannot remember the 
bright casual remarks with which I intended to grace 
the occasion. 

After several of these mortifying occasions, I de- 
cided to commit to memory every sprightly repartee 
I could find. But alas! my proud intentions were 
frustrated by the perversity of my memory. The bril- 
liant remarks I thought of were never suited to the 
occasion. I realized that to be of any use my bon mots 
would have to be mentally card catalogued, and even 
if I went to this trouble, I wondered if I could get 
the right one quickly enough. No, there certainly 
would be horrible blank intervals when people 
would stare and wait for an answer that could not be 
found! I decided to cultivate the art of silence, a 
subterfuge by which the dull may achieve the 
semblance of wisdom. 

Even now where people are gathered, I say little, 


beyond explaining patiently that I am not Annette 
Kellerman, that I do not play the piano, and have 
not learned to sing. I assure them that I know day is 
not night and that it is no more necessary to have 
raised letters on the keys of my typewriter than for 
them to have the keys of their pianos lettered. I have 
become quite expert in simulating interest in ab- 
surdities that are told me about other blind people: 
Putting on my Job-like expression, I tell them blind 
people are like other people in the dark, that fire 
burns them, and cold chills them, and they like food 
when they are hungry, and drink when they are 
thirsty, that some of them like one lump of sugar 
in their tea, and others more. 

We were always amused at the newspaper accounts 
of our appearance in a place. I was hailed as a 
princess and a prima donna and a priestess of light. 
I learned for the first time that I was born blind, 
deaf, and dumb, that I had educated myself, that I 
could distinguish colours, hear telephone messages, 
predict when it was going to rain, that I was never 
sad, never discouraged, never pessimistic, that I ap- 
plied myself with celestial energy to being happy, 
that I could do anything that anybody with all his 
faculties could do. They said this was miraculous — 
and no wonder. We supplied the particulars when 
we were asked for them ; but we never knew what 
became of the facts. 


Our travels were a queer jumble of dull and ex- 
citing days. 

I recall an amusing ride we had in the state of 
Washington on a sort of interurban car, which we 
called the "Galloping Goose" on account of its 
peculiar motion. It resembled a goose in other ways, 
too. It stopped when there was no reason for stop- 
ping; but we did not mind, as it was a lovely day in 
spring, and we got out and picked flowers by the 
side of the track. 

Another time, when we were criss-crossing north- 
ern New York, it was necessary for us, in order to 
fill our engagement, to take an early morning train 
that collected milk. It was a pleasant experience. We 
literally stopped at every barn on the way. The milk 
was always waiting for us in tall, bright cans, and 
cheerful young farmers called out greetings to the 
trainmen. The morning was beautiful. It was a joy 
to have the country described to me. The spring 
foliage was exquisite, and I could picture the cows 
standing knee-deep in the luscious young grass which 
I could smell. They said the apple trees in bloom 
were a vision of loveliness. 

Once we happened to be on the last train going 
through the flooded districts of Texas and Louisiana. 
I could feel the water beating against the coaches, 
and every now and then there was a jolt when we hit 
a floating log or a dead cow or horse. We caught an 


uprooted tree on the iron nose of our locomotive and 
carried it for quite a distance, which reminded me 
of the lines is "Macbeth" : 

Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until 
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill 
Shall come against him. 

and I wondered if it was a good or a bad omen. It 
must have been a good one; for we arrived at our 
destination many hours late, but safe and very thank- 

Whenever it was at all possible, I visited a school 
for the blind or the deaf in the city where I was 
speaking; but our schedule was strenuous to begin 
with^ and I was not equal to such additional effort. 
Several times I was treated most discourteously be- 
cause I did not rush out of the hotel, just after arriv- 
ing, and shake hands with a whole school. In one 
city, at a time when I could scarcely speak because of 
a cold, the superintendent of the school for the blind 
asked me to visit his institution and was exceedingly 
hurt when both my teacher and my mother told him 
I was not able. It grieved me that I could not always 
make these visits, not only because of the disappoint- 
ment of those who invited me, but also because I was 
greatly interested in what was being done for the 
blind and deaf all over the country. 

Frequently when I am speaking in a city, I re- 


ceive letters from invalids who tell me they have 
read my books, and wish to see me, but are unable to 
come to my lecture because they are shut in — or shut 
out from the normal activities of life. Whenever it 
is at all possible, I go to see them before or after 
the lecture. Their brave patience stirs the depths of 
my soul, and I bow my head in shame when I think 
how often I forget my own blessings and grow im- 
patient with thwarting circumstances. I carry away 
with me sharp emotional pictures of thin, tremulous 
hands and suffering deeply graven in delicate linea- 
ments, the cruel refinements of the sick room, of 
gentle pride in dainty things made in the intervals of 
anguish — bead necklaces, crocheted lace, paper 
flowers, sketches, and kewpie dolls, happy exclama- 
tions mingled with moans of pain, the smell of medi- 
cines and dreadful pauses of adjustment when the 
attendant tries to make some part of the maimed 
body more comfortable. 

New ideas kept crowding into my mind, and my 
attitude changed as different aspects of civilization 
were presented to me. I had once believed that we 
were all masters of our fate — that we could mould 
our lives into any form we pleased. I was sure that 
if we wished strongly enough for anything, we 
could not fail to win it. I had overcome deafness 
and blindness sufficiently to be happy, and I sup- 
posed that anyone could come out victorious if he 


threw himself valiantly into life's struggle. But as 
I went more and more about the country I learned 
that I had spoken with assurance on a subject I knew 
little about. I forgot that I owed my success partly 
to the advantages of my birth and environment, and 
largely to the helpfulness of others. I forgot that 
whatever character I possessed was developed in an 
atmosphere suitable to it. I was like the princess who 
lived in a palace all composed of mirrors, and who 
beheld only the reflection of her own beauty. So I 
saw only the reflection of my good fortune. Now, 
however, I learned that the power to rise in the 
world is not within the reach of everyone, and that 
opportunity comes with education, family connec- 
tions, and the influence of friends. I began to realize 
that although in fifty years man had acquired more 
tools than he had made during the thousands of years 
that had gone before he had lost sight of his own 
happiness and personal development. It was terrible 
to realize that the very forces which were meant to 
lift him above hopeless drudgery were taking posses- 
sion of him. 

This realization came most poignantly when we 
visited mining and manufacturing towns where 
people were working in an unwholesome atmosphere 
to create comfort and beauty in which they could 
never have a part. I learned that to be a worker, 
poor and undefended, is 


To suffer woes which hope thinks infinite; 
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night; 
To defy power, which seems omnipotent ; 
To love and bear; to hope till hope creates 
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates. 

But as time went on my thoughtless optimism was 
transmuted into that deeper faith which weighs the 
ugly facts of the world, yet hopes for better things 
and keeps on working for them even in the face of 

It was in January, 1914, that we started on our 
first tour across the continent, and my mother accom- 
panied us, which was a great happiness to me. She 
had always wanted to travel, and now I could make 
it possible for her to see our wonderful country from 
coast to coast! The first place we spoke in was 
Ottawa, Canada. From there we went to Toronto 
and London, Ontario, where we were received with 
the beautiful courtesy and friendliness characteristic 
of the Canadian people. Then we crossed the border 
into Michigan. We spoke in Minnesota and Iowa and 
in other parts of the Middle West and we had many 
amusing, exciting, and exasperating experiences. 

When we left Salt Lake City, it was bitter cold. 
We wore fur coats, fur-lined gloves, and overshoes, 
and still felt the cold keenly. In the middle of the 
night our train jumped the track, and our car got 
stuck fast in the roadbed. The violence of the motion 


nearly threw us out of our berths. We were obliged 
to dress as quickly as we could in the darkness and 
change to an immigrant car with straw seats. We did 
not get to sleep again. 

About daylight we dropped into Riverside, the 
heat became oppressive, and I began to catch whiffs 
of ravishing fragrance. My mother and my teacher 
spelled into my hands as the train sped past orange 
and eucalyptus groves, through the soft sage-scented 
brown hills, with snow-capped mountains in the dis- 
tance. We raced through the misty maze of pepper 
trees and the blue, gold, and scarlet of millions of 
flowers until we came at last to Los Angeles. 

No sooner had we stepped out on the platform 
than we were greeted by a great gathering of friends, 
reporters, and photographers. 

We had looked forward to this arrival and wanted 
to make a pleasant impression, but, weighted down 
with our furs and desperately in need of rest, we 
knew that we could not do it. We tried to escape 
to the hotel and remove the stains of travel, but our 
friends assured us that they had special cars waiting 
for us. 

All the ladies present were daintily dressed in 
summer gowns with flowers on their hats and gay 
sunshades over their heads. We were so embarrassed 
by our appearance that we declined the special auto- 
mobiles, jumped into a taxi, and told the driver to 


take us as fast as he could to the Alexandria Hotel. 
But as we turned the corner, something went wrong 
with the car, and he had to stop for a few minutes 
until it was fixed. Instantly reporters sprang upon 
the running board and demanded an interview, and 
the photographers caught up with us and pointed 
their cameras at us! Every effort was made to delay 
us, but we insisted on going on to our hotel. Our 
friends' feelings were hurt, the newspaper people 
were indignant, our manager was in a rage. Our 
rooms were full of exquisite flowers, beautiful fruits, 
and everything to add to our comfort and pleasure ; 
but we were too exasperated and weary to enjoy 
them. Indeed, it was several days before we could 
feel like human beings, and not like wild creatures 
in a gilded cage. 

My mother used to say that the years she travelled 
with us were the happiest, as well as the most 
arduous, she had ever known. She said she lived a 
lifetime in her first trip with us across the continent. 
Going to California was an experience she had never 
dared hope for. Her greatest delight was crossing 
and recrossing San Francisco Bay, especially at 
night. She described to me the splendour of the sky 
and the encircling hills. She amused herself by feed- 
ing the gulls which followed the ferry boat and 
sometimes alighted on the rail. Her poet's soul 
sparkled in her words when she told me how the 


sun sent its shafts through the Golden Gate as it 
journeyed westward, and how Mt. Tamalpais stood, 
silent and majestic, keeping eternal vigil with the 
sky, the ocean, and mortality. My mother simply 
worshipped the redwoods — ''nature's monarchs," 
she called them, and she declared that they were 
more impressive even than the mountains, "because 
human faculties can compass them. They are earth's 
noblest aristocrats." This was a bond between them. 
For she had the Adams pride in family, which had 
been greatly augmented by Southern traditions. 

We went often to the Muir woods on that first 
trip, and I have visited them many times since. How 
shall I describe my sensations upon entering that 
Temple of the Lord! Every time I touch the red- 
woods I feel as if the unrest and strife of earth are 
lulled. I cease to long and grieve — I am in the midst 
of a Sabbath of repose, resting from human futilities. 
I am in a holy place, quiet as a heart full of prayer. 
God seems to walk invisible through the long, dim 

I never met Mr. William Kent, the noble gentle- 
man who bought this grove of mighty redwoods to 
save them from destruction, but some years later 
when I was lecturing in California in behalf of the 
blind I spoke at his home. I had already learned 
how he had given the trees to the United States as a 
park and how when Roosevelt wished to name the 



park Kent's Woods he replied, "I suggest that as a 
tribute to our great naturalist, John Muir, the park 
be named Muir Woods. I am not unappreciative of 
your kindness, and I thank you ; but I have five stal- 
wsiTt sons, and if they cannot keep the name of Kent 
alive, I am v^illing that it should be forgotten." I 
have never ceased to regret that he was not at home 
that day. 

There is something attractive, individual, mem- 
orable, in nearly every city; but their charms, like 
those of w^omen, are varied, and appeal to different 
temperaments. San Francisco bewitches me. She sits 
upon her glorious bay, a queen in many aspects, a 
royal child when she plays with the gray-winged 
gulls which circle round her like bubbles rising from 
the dark water. The God who moulded the Canadian 
Rockies was an Old Testament Jehovah — a mighty 
God! The God who moulded the hills around San 
Francisco had a gentle hand. Their outlines are as 
tender as those of a reclining woman. 

In the distance is Mt. Tamalpais, like an old 
Indian chief asleep in the doorway of his wigwam 
at close of day, beneath him the bay and the Golden 
Gate opening to the Pacific Ocean. At the left of 
the Gate is an old Spanish fort. Yonder is Alcatraz 
Island with guns pointing west. When "rosy-fingered 
dawn" touches the eyes of the Indian chief, and they 
open to behold his beloved, he will see ships sailing 


through the portals of the Golden Gate to the breast 
of their mistress, the Pacific, ''strong as youth, and as 

Happy memories, like homing birds, flutter round 
me as I write — breakfast at the Clifif House, and 
huge rocks sprawling in the blue waters, where the 
sea lions play all day long, warm sand dunes where 
blue and yellow lupins grow, groves of eucalyptus 
whose pungent, red-tinted leaves I loved to crush in 
my hand. Standing on the Twin Peaks, my mother 
said, drawing me close to her, "This is a reparation 
for all the sorrow I have ever known." We could see 
the city far below, and Market Street stretching 
from the Peaks to the Bay, and at the foot of Market 
Street the clock tower, and ferry boats leaving every 
few minutes, steep Telegraph Hill — more like a 
ladder than a street, about which many stories are 
told by sailors and searchers for gold, and the Mis- 
sion Dolores, founded by Father Junipero Serra, 
whom the Golden State honours for his heroism, the 
Church of St. Ignatius, whose bells ring at seven 
every morning, the great cross on Lone Mountain, 
which reminds us to make the most of life, since our 
days on earth are few. 

Sometimes the city surrounds herself with clouds 
or wraps herself in gray vapours, as if to be alone. 
Sometimes the Twin Peaks shake off their ghostly 
garments and gaze at the starlit sky, while the moon 


turns her luminous face in such a way as to make her- 
self visible from every side. At sunset the Twin 
Peaks wear a many-coloured crown. We have 
climbed them at dawn when pillars of light, shaped 
like a Japanese fan, throw a bridge of flame between 
their summits. Even as we gaze, awe-stilled, they 
pull up great mantles of cloud from the sea and cover 
their faces. The next moment city, mountains, ocean, 
are blotted out — we look into white darkness ! I have 
often puzzled my brain to discover the difference 
between black and white darkness. To my physical 
perception there is no difference, yet the words 
"white darkness" bring to my mind an image of 
something diaphanous which extinguishes the glare 
of day, but is not gloom, like black darkness. It sug- 
gests the sweet shadows which white pines cast upon 
me when I sit under them. 

I usually know what part of the city I am in by 
the odours. There are as many smells as there are 
philosophies. I have never had time to gather and 
classify my olfactory impressions of different cities, 
but it would be an interesting subject. I find it quite 
natural to think of places by their characteristic 

Fifth Avenue, for example, has a different odour 
from any other part of New York or elsewhere. In- 
deed, it is a very odorous street. It may sound like a 


joke to say that it has an aristocratic smell; but it 
has, nevertheless. As I walk along its even pave- 
ments, I recognize expensive perfumes, powders, 
creams, choice flowers, and pleasant exhalations from 
the houses. In the residential section I smell delicate 
food, silken draperies, and rich tapestries.Sometimes, 
when a door opens as I pass, I know what kind of 
cosmetics the occupants of the house use. I know if 
there is an open fire, if they burn wood or soft coal, 
if they roast their coffee, if they use candles, if the 
house has been shut up for a long time, if it has been 
painted or newly decorated, and if the cleaners are at 
work in it. I suggest that if the police really wish to 
know where stills and "speakeasies" are located, they 
take me with them. It would not be a bad idea for 
the United States Government to establish a bureau 
of aromatic specialists. 

I know when I pass a church and whether it is 
Protestant or Catholic. I know when I am in the 
Italian quarter of a city by the smells of salami, 
garlic, and spaghetti. I know when we are near oil 
wells. I used to be able to smell Duluth and St. Louis 
miles off by their breweries, and the fumes of the 
whiskey stills of Peoria, Illinois, used to wake me up 
at night if we passed within smelling distance of it. 

In small country towns I smell grocery stores, 
rancid butter, potatoes, and onions. The houses often 
have a musty, damp aura. I can easily distinguish 


Southern towns by the odours of fried chicken, grits, 
yams and cornbread, while in Northern towns the 
predominating odours are of doughnuts, corn beef 
hash, fishballs, and baked beans. I think I could 
write a book about the rich, warm, varied aromas of 
California; but I shall not start on that subject. It 
would take too long. 

The first tour was typical of all our subsequent 
ones. In the years that followed we journeyed up and 
down the immensity of America from the storms 
of the Atlantic to the calms of the Pacific, from the 
Pine State to the Gulf States, along the banks of 
muddy creeks or following the Mississippi until 
it seemed to me as if we were tearing our way through 
life just like that tameless river. On we went through 
desolate morasses and swamps ghostly with mossy 
trees, over endless leagues of red clay, past wretched 
cabins of whites and negroes, then suddenly the glory 
of Southern spring burst upon us with the songs of 
mocking birds, the masses of dogwood blossoms and 
wild azaleas, and the lonely vastnesses of Texas. 
Then back home for a few months' rest, and an- 
other long tour from the settled East through Sand- 
burg's "stormy, brawny, shouting city," across the 
sun-soaked prairies of Nebraska, through the im- 
mense gulches of Colorado, up the mountains of 
Utah, sparkling in the winter sunshine, across the 


limitless plains of the Dakotas and past the thousand 
sparkling lakes of Minnesota. I lost all sense of 
permanence, and even now I never feel really as 
if I were living at home. Unconsciously I am always 
expecting to be borne again over the vast distances 
which so powerfully fascinate me. I am like a young 
spruce tree which is transplanted often, and keeps 
its root in a ball, so that it can adapt itself to any 
new place whither it may be carried. 

Those tours are a symbol to me of the ceaseless 
travelling of my soul through the uplands of thought. 
My body is tethered, it is true, as I follow the dark 
trail from city to city and climate to climate ; but the 
very act of going satisfies me with the feeling that 
my mind and body go together. It is a never-ending 
wonder for me how my days lead to 

. . . the start of superior journeys, 

To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, 
To conceive no time however distant, but what you may reach 

it and pass it, 
To look up and down no road but it stretches 
And waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for 


To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter 
them, to gather the love out of their hearts, 


to know the world itself as a road, as many roads to hope, as 
roads for travelling souls. 


That is why Walt Whitman's 'The Open Road" is 
one of my favourite long poems, it holds up to me so 
faithfully a mirror of my own inner experience. 
However dreary or tiresome I may find some of these 
roads, there is ^Ha seduction eternelle du chemin/^ I 
look forward to other journeys on a celestial high- 
way, where all limitations shall disappear, and my 
voice, perfect with immortality, shall ring earth- 
jvards with sweet might to bless ; and looking forward 
is another mode of happiness. 

Chapter XI > ' 


On our second trip across the continent Miss Polly 
Thomson, who became my secretary in October, 
1914, accompanied us in place of my mother. Her 
position was, and has been ever since, nominally that 
of secretary, but as the years passed she has taken 
upon herself the burden of house management as 
well. She has never known the luxury of the usual 
secretary's hours or well-defined duties. A new day 
for her frequently begins an hour or two after the 
previous day ends. She has to account for all our en- 
gagements, lightning changes and caprices, our sins, 
commissions, and omissions. Yes, Polly Thomson 
manages it all. She is our friend, kind and true, full of 
good nature, often tired, but always with time to do 
something more. Had it not been for her devotion, 
adaptability, and willingness to give up evrey indi- 
vidual pleasure we should long ago have found it 
necessary to withdraw into complete isolation. For 
in spite of our income from Mr. Carnegie and the 
money we made ourselves our expenses were always 
a ravenous wolf devouring our finances. 

After the outbreak of the World War it was im- 



possible for me to enjoy the lecture tours as I had 
before. Not a cheerful message could I give without 
a sense of tragic contradiction. Not a thought could 
I sing in the joy of old days! Even the deepest 
slumber could not render me quite unconscious of 
the rising v^orld calamity. I used to wake suddenly 
from a frightful dream of sweat and blood and 
multitudes shot, killed, and crazed, and go to sleep 
only to dream of it again. I was often asked why I 
did not write something new. How could I write 
with the thunder of machine guns and the clamour of 
hate-filled armies deafening my soul, and the con- 
flagration of cities blinding my thoughts? The world 
seemed one vast Gethsemane, and day unto day and 
night unto night brought bitter knowledge which 
must needs become a part of myself. I was in a state 
of spiritual destitution such as I had not before 
experienced. Works are the breath and life of happi- 
ness, and what works could I show when cry upon cry 
of destruction floated to me over sea and land? Noth- 
ing was sadder to me during those years of disaster 
than the thousands of letters I received from Europe 
imploring me for help which I could not give while 
my teacher and I were with difficulty working our 
way back and forth across the continent to earn our 
daily bread. If I did not reply to them it was because 
I was utterly helpless. 

It was extremely hard for me to keep my faith as I 


read how the mass of patriotic hatred swelled with 
ever wider and more barbaric violence. Explanations 
without end filled the pages under my scornful 
fingers, and they all amounted to the same frightful 
admission — the collapse of civilization and the be- 
trayal of the most beautiful religion ever preached 
upon earth. 

I clung to the hope that my country would prove 
itself a generous, friendly power amid the welter of 
hostility and misery. I believed that President Wilson 
possessed the nobility and steadfastness required to 
maintain his policy of neutrality and ^'Christian 
gentleness." I determined to do and say my utmost 
to protest against militarism in the United States. 
My teacher and I were both worn out; but we felt 
that we must at least try to carry a message of good 
will to a stricken world. 

Accordingly, during the summer of 1916 we under- 
took an anti-preparedness Chautauqua tour. We were 
booked for many towns in Nebraska and Kansas and 
a few in Michigan. This tour was far from successful. 
Most of our audiences were indifferent to the ques- 
tion of peace and war. Fortunately, the weather was 
unusually cool, and we took advantage of the early 
morning hours to motor to the next place where we 
had an engagement. It was a restful experience to 
ride past hamlets and towns buried in fields of corn 
and wheat, or over immense prairies bright with 


sunflowers which were as large as little trees, with 
big, rough leaves and heavy-headed blossoms. When 
one saw them at a distance they must have seemed 
like yellow necklaces winding in and out the bright 
grass of the prairies. I loved the odour of great 
harvests which followed us mile after mile through 
the stillness. But it was not always sunshine and calm. 
I remember terrific storms with metallic peals of 
thunder, warm splashes of rain and seas of mud 
through which our little Ford carried us trium- 
phantly to our destination. 

We spoke sometimes in halls or in big, noisy tents 
full of country folk, or at a camp on the edge of a 
lake. Occasionally our audience evinced genuine 
enthusiasm; but I felt more than ever that I was not 
fitted to address large crowds on subjects which 
called for a quick cross-play of questions, answers, 
debate, and repartee. 

The attitude of the press was maddening. It seems 
to me difficult to imagine anything more fatuous and 
stupid than their comments on anything I say touch- 
ing public affairs. So long as I confine my activities 
to social service and the blind, they compliment me 
extravagantly, calling me the "archpriestess of the 
sightless," "wonder woman," and ''modern miracle," 
but when it comes to a discussion of a burning social 
or political issue, especially if I happen to be, as I 


SO often am, on the unpopular side, the tone changes 
completely. They are grieved because they imagine 
I am in the hands of unscrupulous persons who take 
advantage of my afflictions to make me a mouthpiece 
for their own ideas. It has always been natural for 
me to speak my mind, and the pent-up feelings which 
kept beating against my heart at that time demanded 
an outlet. I like frank debate, and I do not object to 
harsh criticism so long as I am treated like a human 
being with a mind of her own. 

The group of which I was a part was doing all it 
could to keep America out of the war. At the same 
time another group, equally earnest, was doing all it 
could to precipitate America into the war. In this 
group, the one who at the time seemed most impor- 
tant, was ex-President Roosevelt. 

I had met President Roosevelt in 1903 during a 
visit to my foster father, Mr. Hitz. He sent me a 
great basket of flowers and expressed the wish that 
I might find it agreeable to call upon him at the 
White House. The President was very cordial. He 
asked Miss Sullivan many questions about my edu- 
cation. Then he turned to me and asked me if there 
was any way in which he could talk to me himself. 
I told him he could learn the manual alphabet in a 
few minutes, and at his request showed him the 
letters. He made a few of them with his own hand. 


"F" bothered him, and he said impatiently, "I'm too 
clumsy." Then Miss Sullivan showed him how he 
could communicate with me by lip-reading. 

He asked me if I thought he should let young 
Theodore play football. I was embarrassed because 
I could not tell whether he was joking or seriously 
asking my opinion. I told him, with straight face, 
that at Radcliffe we did not play football, but that I 
had heard that learned Harvard professors were 
objecting to it because it took so much of the boys' 
time away from their studies. Then he asked me if I 
had heard of Pliny and when I told him I had he 
asked if I had read his letter to Trajan in which he 
says that if the Greeks are permitted to keep up their 
athletics their minds will be so occupied with them 
that they will not be dangerous to Rome. We talked 
about Miss Holt's work for the blind in New York 
and what I had been doing in Massachusetts and he 
urged me to keep on prodding people about their 
responsibilities to the blind. "There's nothing better 
we can do in the world than to serve a good purpose." 

My impression of him then was of an alert man, 
poised as if to spring, and besides alertness there was 
a kind of eagerness to act first. During those years 
preceding America's entrance into the war it seemed 
to me, as it has seemed ever since, that he was more 
precipitate than wise. It was the speed at which he 
moved that gave us the impression that he was ac- 


complishing mighty things. Only in aggressiveness 
was he strong. 

What the group I represented desired was fair 
discussion and open debate. I wanted to have the 
whole matter put before the people so they could 
decide whether they wanted to go into the conflict 
or stay out. As it was, they had no choice in the 

I do not pretend that I know the whole solution of 
the world's problems, but I am burdened with a 
Puritanical sense of obligation to set the world to 
rights. I feel responsible for many enterprises that 
are not really my business at all, but many times I 
have kept silence on issues that interested me deeply 
through the fear that others would be blamed for my 
opinions. I have never been willing to believe that 
human nature cannot be changed ; but even if it can- 
not, I am sure it can be curbed and led into channels 
of usefulness. I believe that life, not wealth, is the 
aim of existence — life including all its attributes of 
love, happiness, and joyful labour. I believe war is 
the inevitable fruit of our economic system, but even 
if I am wrong I believe that truth can lose nothing 
by agitation but may gain all. 

I tried to make my audiences see what I saw, but 
the people who crowded the great tents were disap- 
pointed or indifferent. They had come to hear me talk 
about happiness, and perhaps recite "Nearer, My 


God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee," or "My Country, 
'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty," and they did 
not care to have their peace of mind disturbed by 
talk about war, especially as the majority of them 
believed then that we would not be drawn into the 
European maelstrom. 

No words can express the frustration of those days. 
And, indeed, what are words but "painted fire" 
before realities that lift the spirit or cast it down? 
No real communication of profound experiences can 
ever pass from one to another by words. Only those 
who are sensitive to spiritual vibrations can hear in 
them the fluttering of the soul, as a disturbed bird 
flutters in the depths of a thicket. One's life-story 
cannot be told with complete veracity. A true auto- 
biography would have to be written in states of mind, 
emotions, heartbeats, smiles, and tears, not in months 
and years, or physical events. Life is marked off on 
the soul-chart by feelings, not by dates. Mere facts 
cannot present to the reader an experience of the 
heart in all its evanescent hues and fluctuations. 

I am now going to dig an episode out of my 
memory which has contradictory aspects. For that 
reason I would rather keep it locked up in my own 
heart. But when one writes an autobiography, one 
seems, tacitly at least, to promise the reader that one 
will not conceal anything just because it is unpleas- 


ant, and awakens regrets of the past. I would not 
have anyone think that I have told in this book only 
such things as seemed to me likely to win the appro- 
bation of the reader. I want whoever is interested to 
know that I am a mere mortal, with a human being's 
frailties and inconsistencies. 

On the second Chautauqua tour I was accompanied 
by Mrs. Macy and a young man who interpreted for 
me. Miss Thomson was on a vacation at her home in 
Scotland. The young man was very much in earnest, 
and eager to have the people get my message. He 
returned to Wrentham with us in the autumn of 191 6 
after our disappointing and exhausting summer. Our 
homecoming was far from happy. Mr. Macy was not 
there to greet us. Dear Ian had done everything he 
could to make the house attractive and the garden 
beautiful with flowers; but there was no cheerfulness 
in our hearts, and the flowers seemed to add to the 
gloom. I telegraphed my mother to come to Wrent- 
ham, and in a few days her presence sweetened our 

But we were scarcely settled when Mrs. Macy fell 
ill. She had succumbed to fatigue and anxiety. She 
developed pleurisy and a tenacious cough, and her 
physician advised her to go to Lake Placid for the 
winter. That meant that our home would be broken 
up. Wc should have to let Ian go, since wc could no 
longer afford to keep him. This hurt us more than 


anything. For we all loved Ian. Mrs. Macy had 
taken him from the fields — a Lithuanian peasant who 
could not speak three words of English — and trained 
him to be a cook and butler and houseman. He was 
devoted to us, and we felt when he went that the 
heart of the Wrentham place would stop beating. 

I could not work, I could not think calmly. For 
the first time in my life it seemed folly to be alive. 
I had often been asked what I should do if anything 
happened to my teacher. I was now asking myself 
the same question. I saw more clearly than ever 
before how inseparably our lives were bound to- 
gether. How lonely and bleak the world would be 
without her. What could I do? I could not imagine 
myself going on with my work alone. To do anything 
in my situation, it was essential to have about me 
friends who cared deeply for the things I did. My 
experience of the summer had brought home to me 
the fact that few people were interested in my aims 
and aspirations. Once more I was overwhelmed by a 
sense of my isolation. 

Such was the background of the adventure I shall 
relate. I was sitting alone in my study one evening, 
utterly despondent. The young man who was still 
acting as my secretary in the absence of Miss Thom- 
son, came in and sat down beside me. For a long 
time he held my hand in silence, then he began talk- 


ing to me tenderly. I was surprised that he cared so 
much about me. There was sweet comfort in his 
loving words. I listened all a-tremble. He was full 
of plans for my happiness. He said if I would marry 
him, he would always be near to help me in the 
difficulties of life. He would be there to read to me, 
look up material for my books and do as much as he 
could of the work my teacher had done for me. , 

His love was a bright sun that shone upon my 
helplessness and isolation. The sweetness of being 
loved enchanted me, and I yielded to an imperious 
longing to be a part of a man's life. For a brief space 
I danced in and out of the gates of Heaven, wrapped 
up in a web of bright imaginings. Naturally, I 
wanted to tell my mother and my teacher about the 
wonderful thing that had happened to me; but the 
young man said, "Better wait a bit, we must tell them 
together. We must try to realize what their feelings 
will be. Certainly, they will disapprove at first. Your 
mother does not like me, but I shall win her approval 
by my devotion to you. Let us keep our love secret a 
little while. Your teacher is too ill to be excited just 
now, and we must tell her first." I had happy hours 
with him. We walked in the autumn splendour of the 
woods, and he read to me a great deal. But the secrecy 
which circumstances appeared to impose upon us 
made me suffer. The thought of not sharing my hap- 


piness with my mother and her who had been all 
things to me for thirty years seemed abject, and little 
by little it destroyed the joy of being loved. 

As we parted one night, I told him I had made up 
my mind definitely to tell my teacher everything the 
next morning. But the next morning Fate took mat- 
ters into her own hands and tangled the web, as is 
her wont. I was dressing, full of the excitement of 
what I was going to communicate to my loved ones, 
when my mother entered my room in great distress. 
With a shaking hand she demanded, "What have you 
been doing with that creature? The papers are full 
of a dreadful story about you and him. What does it 
mean? Tell me!" I sensed such hostility towards my 
lover in her manner and words that in a panic I 
pretended not to know what she was talking about. 
"Are you engaged to him? Did you apply for a 
marriage license?" Terribly frightened, and not 
knowing just what had happened, but anxious to 
shield my lover, I denied everything. I even lied to 
Mrs. Macy, fearing the consequences that would 
result from the revelation coming to her in this 
shocking way. My mother ordered the young man 
out of the house that very day. She would not even 
let him speak to me, but he wrote me a note in braille, 
telling where he would be, and begging me to keep 
him informed. I kept on denying that I knew any- 
thing about the story in the papers until Mrs. Macy 


went to Lake Placid with Miss Thomson, who had 
returned from Scotland, and my mother took me 
home to Montgomery. 

In time she found out how I had deceived her and 
everyone else. The memory of her sorrow burns me 
to the soul. She begged me not to write Mrs. Macy 
anything about it until we knew that she was stronger. 
"The shock would kill her, I am sure," she said. It 
was months later when my teacher learned the truth. 

I cannot account for my behaviour. As I look back 
and try to understand, I am completely bewildered. 
I seem to have acted exactly opposite to my nature. 
It can be explained only in the old way — that love 
makes us blind and leaves the mind confused and 
deprives it of the use of judgment. I corresponded 
with the young man for several months ; but my love- 
dream was shattered. It had flowered under an 
inauspicious star. The unhappiness I had caused my 
dear ones produced a state of mind unfavourable to 
the continuance of my relations with the young man. 
The love which had come unseen and unexpected 
departed with tempest on its wings. 

As time went on, the young man and I became 
involved in a net of falsehood and misunderstanding. 
I am sure that if Mrs. Macy had been there, she 
would have understood, and sympathized with us 
both. The most cruel sorrows in life are not its losses 
and misfortunes, but its frustrations and betrayals. 


The brief love will remain in my life, a little 
island of joy surrounded by dark waters. I am glad 
that I have had the experience of being loved and 
desired. The fault was not in the loving, but in the 
circumstances. A lovely thing tried to express itself; 
but conditions were not right or adequate, and it 
never blossomed. Yet the failure, perhaps, only serves 
to set off the beauty of the intention. I see it all now 
with a heart that has grown sad in growing wiser. 

All that winter was a time of anxiety and suffering. 
My teacher's health did not improve and she was 
very unhappy in the bleak climate of Lake Placid. 
Finally, about the beginning of December, she sailed 
for Porto Rico, accompanied by Polly Thomson. 
She remained there until the following April, and 
almost every week brought me a letter with her own 
hand in braille, full of delight over the wonderful 
climate of Porto Rico. She described "the loveliest 
sky in the world," the palms and cocoanuts, tree-like 
ferns, lilies, poinsettias, and many beautiful flow- 
ers she had never seen before. She declared that if 
she got well anywhere, it would be on that enchanted 
island. But she did not really recover until the fall 
after she returned to Wrentham; she could not lec- 
ture again for more than a year. 

I had often been urged to write a book about the 
blind, and I was eager to do it now, not only because 
I thought it might help their cause but because I 


wanted something to take my mind away from war 
questions. I might have done it that winter, but I 
could not collect material for such a book without my 
teacher's help and I could not afford expert assist- 
ance. I dwell so much on the inadequacy of my 
income, not because I see in it a reason for complaint, 
but because many people have criticized my teacher 
and me for the things we have left undone. If they 
only knew how many of our years have been sacrificed 
to practical and impractical ways of earning a living! 

In various ways our small fortune had become so 
depleted that we were obliged to sell our home in 
Wrentham. We had been one with the house, one 
with the sweetness of the town. Our joys and affec- 
tions had peopled the rooms and many objects had 
woven themselves by long companionship into my 
daily life there. There was a friendly sense about 
the long, handsome oak table where I wrote and 
spread out my papers with comfort, the spacious 
bookcases, the big study windows where my plants 
had welcomed me with blossoms and the sofa where 
I had sat by a cheery fire. How many of those fires 
had shone upon faces I loved, had warmed hands 
whose clasp I shall feel no more, and gladdened 
hearts that are now still! The very sorrows we had 
endured there had endeared that home all the more 
to us. 

The house seemed to have a personality^ and to 


mourn our going away. Each room spoke to us in 
unheard but tender accents. I do not think of a house 
merely as wood, stone, and cement, but as a spirit 
which shelters or casts out, blesses or condemns. It 
was a sweet old farmhouse that had enfolded me, and 
which had stored away in its soul the laughter of 
children and the singing of birds. It was a home 
where rural peace had smiled upon my work. There 
I watched the ploughing and harrowing of the 
fields, and the sowing of seed, waited for new flowers 
and vegetables in the garden. When we left the sun 
was shining, and the magic of June was everywhere, 
except in our hearts. My feet almost refused to move 
as we stepped out of a house where I had thrilled to 
the beauty of so many golden seasons! Oh, those 
Mays with dainty marsh-marigolds and a sea of 
violets, pink and white drifts of apple blossoms! 
Oh, the Junes with the riot of ramblers up the walls, 
the red clover and white Queen Anne's lace, purple 
ironweed, and all about the divine aroma of pine 
needles! Oh, the breezes with the coolness of deep 
woods and rippling streams! All my tree-friends 
were there, too — the slender white pines by my 
study, the big, hospitable apple trees, one with a 
seat where I had sat wrapped in bright dreams, the 
noble elms casting shadows far over the fields and 
the spruces nodding to me. Nowhere was there a 
suggestion of world wars, falling empires, and bitter 


disillusionment, but a sense of permanence and charm 
which I have not experienced so fully since. Thirteen 
years we had lived there. It was not a long period 
measured by years and much of the time we had 
perforce been away, yet it was a lifetime measured 
in seasons of the heart. 

The one thought which cheered us as we drove 
away that sad morning was that the house we had 
loved so well would be good to others. It is now a 
rest home for the girls working at Jordan Marsh 
department store, Boston; but it is so endeared to me 
by all intimate joys and sorrows that no matter who 
lives in it and no matter where I go I shall always 
think of it as home. 

Chapter XII 


After wandering about the country for a time we 
decided to make our home in Forest Hills, a pretty 
suburb of New York City. We bought a small, odd- 
looking house which has so many peaks and angles 
that we call it our Castle on the Marsh. "We" were 
Mrs. Macy, Polly Thomson, myself and Sieglinde. 

We were glad to be out of the noise and rush and 
confusion of public life. We planted trees and vines 
in the garden. I had a little study upstairs open to 
the four winds of heaven. I began the study of 
Italian because I wanted to read Dante and Petrarch 
in their own tongue, and we hoped to live quietly 
with our books and our dreams. But we had hardly 
settled down before we had a letter from Dr. Francis 
Trevelyan Miller proposing that a motion picture 
be made of the story of my life. The idea pleased me 
very much because I thought that through the film 
we might show the public in a forceful manner how 
I had been saved from a cruel fate, and how the 
distracted, war-tortured world we were then living 
in could be saved from strife and social injustice — 

1 86 

spiritual deafness and blindness. That is why the 
picture was called ''Deliverance." 

It seems strange to me now that I ever had the 
conceit to go the long, long way to Hollywood, re- 
view my life on the screen, and expect the public not 
to fall asleep over it. I was not an exciting subject 
for a motion picture. I was awkward and big, while 
most of the actresses I met were graceful and sylph- 
like. I could not, like Ariel, ''do my spiriting gently." 
I could not glide like a nymph in cloudlike robes. I 
had no magic wand to conjure up tears and laugh- 
ter. But I enjoyed being in Hollywood, and my only 
regret now is that the picture proved a financial loss 
to all who were interested in it and that my shadow- 
self is still an elephant upon the shoulders of the 

Life in the vicinity of Hollywood is very exciting. 
You never know what you may see when you venture 
beyond your doorsill. Threading your way between 
the geraniums which grow on the curb, and spread 
out under your feet like a Persian rug, you behold 
a charge of cavalry or an ice wagon overturned in 
the middle of a street, or a shack in flames on the 
hillside, or an automobile plunging down a clifif. 
When everything was new to us, we motored out to 
the desert. There was nothing to see but glare and 
sand mounds, with here and there a cactus or a 
greasewood bush. At a bend in the road someone 


exclaimed, "Look! there's an Indian — a real wild 
Indian." We got out of the car and reconnoitred. 
The Indian seemed to be the only moving object in 
the universe. The men in the party approached him 
v^ith the idea of asking him to let me touch his 
headdress, which was a gorgeous affair of painted 
eagle feathers. When we got near enough, we began 
to gesticulate to tell him in pantomime what we 
wanted. In perfectly good English the Indian said, 
"Sure, the lady can feel me as much as she likes." 
He was a motion picture actor waiting for his 
camera men. 

Every morning at sunrise Miss Thomson and I 
went for a ride through the dewy stillness. Nothing 
refreshed me as did the cool breeze, scented with 
sage, thyme, and eucalyptus. Some of the happiest 
hours of my life were spent on the trails of Beverly 
Hills. I loved Peggy, the horse I rode, and I think 
he liked me ; for she seldom lost her temper, although 
I know she must have found my riding very clumsy 
indeed. I am sure things fell out very much to her 
liking one day when a girth broke, and she slipped 
the saddle and galloped away into the hills for a 
holiday, leaving me in the middle of a strawberry 
patch. I should not have minded if the farmer had 
not already finished picking all the ripe strawberries. 

We set out to make a simple picture with The 
Story of My Life as a background. We worked at 


the Brunton studio under the direction of Mr. George 
Foster Piatt, who was most patient with me. He 
devised a signal system of taps that I could follow 
and allowed plenty of time for Polly Thomson to 
interpret his direction to me. After general directions 
had been spelled into my hand, I was supposed to go 
through the action with the help of signal taps. "Tap, 
tap, tap" — walk toward the window on your right. 
'Tap, tap, tap" — hold up your hands to the sun (a 
blaze of heat from the big lamps). "Tap, tap, tap" — 
discover the bird's cage; (I had already discovered 
the cage five times). "Tap, tap, tap" — express sur- 
prise, feel for the bird, express pleasure. "Tap, tap, 
tap" — be natural. In my hand impatiently: "There's 
nothing to be afraid of; it isn't a lion in the cage — 
it's a canary. Repeat." 

I was never quite at my ease when I posed. It was 
hard to be natural before the camera, and not to see 
it at that! I had little skill to throw myself into the 
spirit of the scene. There I sat or stood for a picture, 
growing hotter and hotter, my hands more and more 
moist as the light poured upon me. My embarrassment 
caused my brow and nose to shine unartistically. 
Instead of putting on a winning smile, I often dis- 
charged all life and intelligence from my counten- 
ance, and gazed stiffly into vacancy. When I became 
too absorbed in a difficult detail, like writing in large 
letters spited to the screen, I unconsciously frowned, 


and I believe that only the good nature of those about 
me saved my reputation for amiability. Besides, we 
had to go to the studio twice a day, and that meant 
"making up" and "unmaking" each time. 

At first when I was told what effect they were 
trying for in a scene, I used to ask myself how I 
should do it if I were alone in my room, or with 
friends in a familiar place; but the signal "Be 
natural" came emphatically after one of my best 
efforts. I learned that thinking was of no use in a 
motion picture — at least not my thinking. After a 
while, if I caught myself thinking about what I 
was doing, I would pull myself up sharp, and con- 
centrate on the signals that came to me from the 

Of course I could not act in the early scenes. A 
child named Florence Roberts, whose stage name now 
is Sylvia Dawn, impersonated me as a little girl. 
With perfect eyes and ears she acted this part as- 
tonishingly well, and besides the affection I felt for 
her, I had a certain tenderness for the small me that 
she presented so realistically. There was also Ann 
Mason, the sweet, laughter-loving, daintily dressed 
young girl who was myself in the college scenes of 
the picture. I was amused whenever she tried to 
shut her eyes so as to look blind, and they would pop 
open, so interested was she in the scene. I also loved 
the way she dreamed my dreams of beauty, and the 


delightful picture she made side by side with Ulysses 
and the Greek divinities I had read about in my 

Another difficulty arose when it came to presenting 
my friends. I was anxious to have as many of them 
as possible appear in the picture, but many of them 
had died— Henry Rogers, Mark Twain, Phillips 
Brooks, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett 
Hale — and those who were living, had, like myself, 
grown older. 

I wrote Dr. Bell, who was then in Nova Scotia. 
He sent me a beautiful letter which runs in part as 
follows : 

Your letter has touched me deeply. It brings back recollec- 
tions of the little girl I met in Washington so long ago, and 
you are still that little girl to me. I can only say that anything 
you want me to do I will do for your sake, but I can't go down 
to the States before you go to California, and we will have to 
wait until you come back. 

You must remember that when I met you first I wasn't 
seventy-one years old and didn't have white hair, and you were 
only a little girl of seven, so it is obvious that any historical 
picture will have to be made with substitutes for both of us. 
You will have to find someone with dark hair to impersonate 
the Alexander Graham Bell of your childhood, and then per- 
haps your appearance with me in a later scene when we both 
are as we are now may be interesting by contrast. 

It occurred to me it might be attractive to present 
my friends in a somewhat symbolic way. In Gibbon's 
Autobiography there is a memorable passage in 


which he speaks of a walk he took under the acacias 
outside his study at Lausanne when he had com- 
pleted his twenty years' work on The Decline and 
Fall. It seemed to me that the acacia walk would 
be an effective symbol for my picture. What could be 
more appropriate than a berceau of acacias to sug- 
gest my life-journey through shadow and silence? 
What could be more dramatic than to meet my 
friends and have them walk with me in that secluded 
path, with glimpses of lake, mountain, and river 
beyond? The idea was never carried out. This was a 
deep disappointment to me because I had desired to 
make my picture a grateful testimony to the gracious 
deeds and the understanding sympathy which had 
made the story of my life. 

But each one of us, and I assure you there was an 
army of us, had his own idea of the way the picture 
should be made. The substitute for the acacia walk 
struck me as most grotesque and ludicrous. It was a 
great banquet bristling with formality where all my 
friends, both living and dead, were assembled. There 
was my dear father who had been on the Heaven side 
of the Great River for twenty years. There were Dr. 
Hale, Bishop Brooks, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, 
Dr. Bell, Mrs. William Thaw, Henry Rogers; and 
Joseph Jefferson looking much more alive than when 
he came down the mountain from his twenty years 


I felt as if I had died without knowing it, and 
passed on to the other world, and here were my 
friends who had gone before coming to greet me. 
But when I grasped their hands, they seemed more 
substantial than I had imagined spirit-hands would 
be. Moreover, they did not resemble the hands of 
the friends they were impersonating, and the con- 
versation of these resurrected friends did not have 
the flavour of the talk to which I had been accus- 
tomed. It gave me a little shock every time one of 
them interjected a remark into the conversation, and 
when Mark Twain made a witty or complimentary 
speech, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. The 
climax of incongruities came when, after all the 
music, banqueting, and talk, the scenario required 
that I say words to this effect : "Eighty thousand blind 
people are unhappy and unhelped, and in the present 
state of society it is impossible to give them the 
opportunities they should have. . . . Millions of 
human beings live and die without knowing the joy 
of living. . . . Let us resolve now and here to build 
a saner, kindlier world for everybody." 

In another scene I danced for the camera, I poured 
tea for the callers and after the last guest was sped, 
there came the "tap, tap, tap" from the director: 
"Lift up your hands and let them fall, express relief 
that the last bore has left." There was a bedroom 
scene in which I was directed to show the curious 


public that I could dress and undress myself alone 
and that I closed my eyes when I went to sleep. 
Charlie Chaplin proposed to break in and wake the 
^'sleeping beauty," and I wish now that we had let 
him do it. 

Our visits with Charlie Chaplin were among the 
most delightful experiences we had in California. 
He invited me to his studio to see "A Dog's Life," 
and "Shoulder Arms," and when I said I would come 
he seemed as pleased as if I were doing him a favour. 
His manner was shy, almost timid, and his lovely 
modesty lent a touch of romance to an occasion that 
might otherwise have seemed quite ordinary. Before 
he reeled ofif the pictures he let me touch his clothes 
and shoes and moustache that I might have a clearer 
idea of him on the screen. He sat beside me and 
asked me again and again if I was really interested — 
if I liked him and the little dog in the picture. 

This was ten years ago. Twice since then he has 
been overpowered by the tragedy of life and the 
fleeting show of the world he lives in. When I knew 
him in 1918, he was a sincere, thoughtful young man, 
deeply interested in his art and his violin. His mind 
seemed to me sensitive and fine. Apropos of some- 
body's remark about the power of mere words to 
amuse and enchant, the Prince of Jesters quoted from 
Omar Khayyam: 

We are no other than a moving row 
Of magic Shadow-shapes that come and go 
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held 
In Midnight by the Master of the Show. 

But I must get back to my own picture. We had 
not been long at work before we began to realize that 
there was very little drama in the story of my life. 
The chorus that surrounded Mr. Piatt suggested 
that a mystical unfoldment of my story would be 
more interesting than a matter-of-fact narrative. 
When he said that it would be impossible to film they 
chanted that nothing was impossible to those who 

"Can't you see," they wailed, "that there has been 
no romance in Helen Keller's life— no lover, no ad- 
ventures of the heart? Let her imagine a lover and 
follow him in fancy. The picture will be a dismal 
failure without excitement." 

One of our experiments in getting excitement was 
to introduce a fight in which Knowledge and Igno- 
rance contended fiercely for my mind at the entrance 
of the Cave of Father Time. The whole company 
went out to find a suitable location for the battle, and 
a spot that seemed fairly appropriate was chosen 
about forty miles away among the hills. It was more 
exciting than a real prize fight because one of the 
combatants was a woman. Ignorance, a hideous giant, 

1196 MlDStREAM 

and Knowledge, white and panting, wrestled on the 

hillside for the spirit of the infant Helen. 

I held my breath when Ignorance hurled Knowl- 
edge over the cliff, wondering what insurance we 
should pay her if she Was dead. Ignorance, laughing 
a bloodthirsty laugh, stretched his mighty limbs on 
the hill, while wild surmises ran from tongue to 
tongue. After what seemed an eternity, Knowledge's 
pale brow appeared above the edge of the rocks. Ap- 
parently she was only a little breathless from her 
precipitous descent and laborious climb back to the 
battlefield. The fight recommenced fiercer than ever. 
Finally, Knowledge got Ignorance at a disadvantage, 
her floating garments having entangled him and 
thrown him to the ground. She held him down until 
he gave a pledge of submission. The evil genie then 
departed with a madman's glare of hate into the 
shadows of the earth, while Knowledge covered the 
infant with her mantle of conscious light. 

The mystic vapours of this performance distilled 
into an overflowing cup of optimism. It was now 
clear to the dullest of us that there was no limit to 
what might be wrought into the Helen Keller pic- 
ture. Why waste time on a historic picture when the 
realm of imagination was ours for the taking? 

While Dr. Edwin Liebfreed (the man who paid 
the bills) raged, everyone else imagined vain things 
and set the cameras to work on them. Suggestions 

Miss Keller teaching Charlie Chaplin the manual alphabet. 


came thicker than flies in summer, confusing the 
director and depriving him of his judgment, raising 
such a dust of ideas that it was hard to see anything 
clearly. We believed we were to contrive a great 
masterpiece. I am sure that the other picture people 
must have stood by and marvelled at our tremendous 

It was in connection with one of these symbolic 
episodes that we had our most distressing experi- 
ence in Hollywood. The scene represented a dream 
my teacher had when she was feeling discouraged be- 
cause I did not yet understand the meaning of lan- 
guage. She fell asleep, and lo! there was Christ 
saying, "Suffer ye little children to come unto Me." 
She was filled with new courage. To "make" this 
picture, we all went out into the arid waste-lands 
near Hollywood. 

The cars and buses debouched a hundred or more 
little children upon the scorched and glaring soli- 
tude of a vacant hillside. This very rough spot had 
been selected because it resembled Jerusalem. Hur- 
riedly and with great trepidation the director tried 
to marshal his unhappy little army into position; but 
no sooner had they started to climb the hill than they 
set up howls of pain. The ground was thick with 
sharp burrs. The grown-ups tried to carry the chil- 
dren in their arms and on their backs ; but there were 
so many of them, and the climb was so steep, it took 


a long time to get them all up. We worked in the 
blazing sun, and the little ones grew very thirsty. 
Then it was discovered that the milk for the children 
had been forgotten! They cried pitifully, and the 
mothers whose fault it was had much to say about 
the cruelty of directors. Messengers were dispatched 
to town, but we had an hour or more of wretched 
discomfort before they returned. 

I hope that sometime a director will write a book 
about his e^i:periences on location. His opinion of 
the members of the human species who sell their 
children to producers for three dollars a day would 
be enlightening. 

Before I went to Hollywood, I used to imagine 
that artists must have a peculiarly kind feeling to- 
ward the models who embody their creations in films 
or in marble or on canvas. This I found to be a 
delusion. It appears that, for the most part, the work- 
ers in human material despise the portion of man- 
kind who help them to realize their ideal. I sup- 
pose Mark Twain had this in mind when he said, 
^'Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the 
rest of us could not succeed." 

, We planned a group of scenes to show how real 
the adventures of Ulysses were to me. Since I had 
no lover Ulysses could be mine. I remember how 
excited and troubled I was over the scene in which 
he and his crew were shipwrecked. The "stars" went 


away to Balboa, where the waves are terribly rough 
and the coast is full of treacherous rocks. The realism 
of the details that were spelled to me made me 
tremble— the shattering of the boat against the rocks, 
the frantic struggling of the men amid the billows, 
the sudden disappearance of those who were sup- 
posed to be drowned, the final emergence of Ulysses 
and a few strong sailors on the beautiful but baleful 
Isle of Circe. There was, I declare, nothing shadowy 
about this dangerous acting! 

The pilot told me afterwards that I myself was in 
danger for a few minutes in what was to me the most 
thrilling event connected with the picture — my ride 
in an aeroplane. It was only material for more film- 
shadows; but to me it was a mighty reality, and I 
completely forgot my picture self. At first Mrs. 
Macy, my mother, and my brother, who had lately 
come out to California for the last part of the pic- 
ture, would not hear of my being taken up ; but I 
insisted. There was only room for the pilot and me. 
Was I afraid? How could fear hold back my spirit, 
long accustomed to soar? Up, up, up the machine 
bore me until I lost the odours of the flying dust, the 
ripening vineyards and the pungent eucalyptus! Up, 
up, up, I climbed the aerial mountains until I felt 
rain-clouds spilling their pearls upon me. With 
lightning speed we shot over the tallest buildings of 
Los Angeles and returned to the field after half an 


hour's race with a high wind. Then the machine went 
through a series of amazing dips! I felt in them, as it 
were, organ music and the sweep of ocean, winds 
from off mountains and illimitable plains. As the 
machine rose and fell, my brain throbbed with 
ecstatic thoughts that whirled on tiptoe, and I seemed 
to sense the Dance of the Gods. I had never had such 
a satisfying sense of physical liberty. 

Another thrilling day came when we went down to 
the shipyards at San Pedro. The idea was to show 
that I had caught spiritual vibrations from the un- 
rest and suffering of toiling mankind — that I had 
felt the gigantic throbs of labour's thousand ham- 
mers welding the instruments with which fire, water, 
and the winds are yoked to the service of man. At 
the shipyards I found myself actually in the midst 
of the most tremendous industrial activity. I felt the 
rhythmic thunder of the triple hammers in the 
forge and the searching flame and the sharp, quick 
blows of the men driving in rivets, the vibrations of 
huge cranes lifting and lowering burdens. 

The men stopped work to watch me. There was 
a babel of voices. The bosses shouted, ordering the 
men back to their jobs ; but they were too interested 
watching a blind woman on the monster crane. We 
were told that our visit had cost Uncle Sam thousands 
of dollars by slowing up the work for three hours. 


Afterwards we went on board a ship that had 
just been finished and was about to be launched, and 
I christened it by breaking a bottle of champagne 
against the bow. I was too hot and thirsty to be duly 
impressed by the solemn ceremony, and, as I hurled 
the bottle, I let escape a profound sigh at the waste 
of so precious a liquid. At twelve o'clock the men 
shared their lunch with me and brought me a glass 
of cold water and showed the kindest interest in me. 
When finally we got into the automobile and turned 
hotelward I could scarcely move or think, so over- 
weighted was I with a world of emotions and new 

But our days of exaltation were followed by days 
of discouragement. Pessimists said, 'The picture 
will be a hodge-podge. There are too many points of 
view in it." What particular point of view any par- 
ticular person held it was difficult to find out, and 
no wonder, for it shifted with events and with the 
coming and going of different personalities. 

We could not stifle our yearnings for the bright 
vistas of an immaterial sphere. Our thoughts turned 
from the heat of the studio to ethereal locations. Mr. 
Piatt protested, but when someone suggested that it 
was foolish to be making the picture of a mortal 
woman when we might as well be depicting a mys- 
tical Mother of Sorrows wandering lonely, and griev- 


ing for the blind, the wounded, and the fallen of 
humanity, he was completely overruled. Here was 
inspiration and no mistake. 

The average person comforts himself with the re- 
flection that he did not make human beings, and is 
not responsible for their defects. But such a phi- 
losophy had no comfort for the "Mother of Sor- 
rows." There was no satisfaction in such muddle- 
headed serenity. 

The day this part of the picture was to be filmed 
we found within the gates of our studio a great crowd 
of strange creatures — men and women of all races, 
colours, ages, and degrees of deformity. As we waited 
in line to be disinfected (the influenza was in full 
swing, and everyone who entered the studio had to 
have his nostrils and throat sprayed) we asked the 
uniformed attendants if all that mob had been dis- 
infected before us. His answer made us believe we 
were reasonably safe, and we hurried on. 
* Several men minus one or more arms and legs 
were performing acrobatic stunts on the mounds of 
earth beside a ditch where water pipes were being 
laid. One shard with two sticks for legs and a bent 
piece of steel in place of an arm swung himself back 
and forth across the ditch on his crutches, much to 
the delight of the spectators. A blind man tapped his 
way along the walk. Some Chinese squatted on the 
hot sand playing fan-tan. An old man with a thick 


white beard and bushy white hair sat on a canvas 
stool playing a concertina. Women chattered in a 
medley of tongues. 

Miss Thomson asked a man who might have "been 
Jack-the-giant-killer what picture they were mak- 
ing. "Keeler's," he said. "Who's that?" she inquired. 
"Ask me something easy," he grinned. 

In the studio our people were very busy. Yes, we 
were going out on location that day. The "Mother 
of Sorrows" would appear to the afflicted of the 
world bearing a torch of hope. To our amazement 
the crowd through which we had just passed clam- 
bered into our location buses, the director, camera 
men and principal actors got into waiting automo- 
biles, and the procession started. On the way we 
learned some of the details of what was going to 

The police had given us permission to use a 
notorious alley which had recently been closed. It 
was a short, narrow street with two entrances, one 
from the main street and the other from a higher 
level reached by a long flight of rough steps. 

The alley was deserted when we arrived, but when 
the buses unloaded their cargo it became a veritable 
Bedlam. It was as if invisible hands had emptied a 
nondescript Noah's ark there. Dogs, resembling their 
human partners, appeared from nowhere. Soon the 
booths were filled with merchandise. The pawn shops 


and second hand clothing shops displayed their wares 
from poles outside the door. There were tobacco 
stands, shoe repair booths, saloons, and there were 
scissors grinders, peddlers, and fruit venders walking 
up and down shouting and singing. The noise was 
demoniacal, and the smells were nauseating. But 
even more irritating than noise and odours was the 
mad jostling of the crowd. I had an almost irresist- 
ible impulse to strike out — to clutch some support 
amid the swaying confusion. 

I was relieved when Mr. Piatt's boy, Guy, came 
for me. He took me out of the crowd on the main 
street, so that the people should not see me before I 
made my appearance at the upper entrance to the 
alley. The ''Mother of Sorrows" robe was draped 
over my head and arms in long, flowing folds of 
heavy material. I was given instructions to descend 
the steps very slowly, and when I reached the pave- 
ment, I was to walk to the middle of the alley and 
stand with upraised face and arms. Afterwards I 
was told that when I first started down the steps, 
nobody noticed me. Then one of the women, lean- 
ing out of a window, caught sight of me and 
screamed. There was a wild scramble. Every face 
was turned towards the steps. As I came on down 
the mass seemed to become one body. No directing 
was necessary. They behaved as their instincts of 
superstition and fear dictated. The swaying, uncer- 


tain motion of my body, due to lack of balance, 
seemed to hypnotize them. They sensed something 
strange in my bearing and my unseeing eyes. When 
my feet touched the pavement, those near me fell 
on their knees, and before I reached the middle 
of the alley, everyone was kneeling without a signal 
from the director! I stood as motionless as a statue 
for a few terrifying seconds, not knowing ex- 
actly what to do. I sensed the hushed and unnatural 
stillness — the palpitating wall of fear that encircled 
me. I reached out my hands and touched the bowed 
heads of those who were nearest me. The contact 
smote my soul, and the tears rolled down my cheeks 
and fell upon my hands and the heads they rested 
upon. The people around me began to sob aloud, and 
draw closer. I felt them touching my robe and my 
feet. All the love and pity which until that moment 
I had been trying to simulate suddenly rushed over 
me like a tide. I thought my heart would burst, so 
overcharged was it with longing to lift the weary 
load of misery beneath my hands. Scarcely knowing 
what I said, I prayed as I had never prayed in my 
life before. 

"Pity us, O God! Pity our helplessness, our 
broken lives and desecrated bodies! Pity our children 
who wither like flowers in our hands! Pity all the 
maimed and the marred ! We beseech Thee, give us 
a sign that Thou seest our blindness and hearest our 


dumbness. Deliver us out of the alleys and gutters of 
the world I Deliver us from the poverty that is blind- 
ness and the denial that is deafness! With our grop- 
ing hands we pray Thee, break the yoke that is 
heavy upon us. Come, O come to our hearts choked 
with weeds, to our sin-fettered souls, to Thy people 
without a refuge! Come to the children whose para- 
dise we have betrayed! Come to the hungry whom 
no one feeds, to the sick whom no one visits, to the 
criminals whom no one pities! Forgive us our weak 
excuses and the sins we have committed one against 
another in Thy Name." 

The scene that capped the climax for absurdity 
was one in which I was supposed to go to France 
during the conference at which the Big Four were 
deciding the fate of the world, and urge them to 
bring the war to a finish. I was to stuff my mouth 
with golden opinions and placatory speeches to the 
councillors and generals against whose wicked stu- 
pidities I had never missed a chance to vent my in- 
dignation. To this day I am glad of the opportunity 
they gave me to tell those spinners of human destiny 
all that I thought of them! Full of "pomp and cir- 
cumstance" without, and a volcano within, I walked 
stiffly to the council board, escorted by Mr. Lloyd 
George, and I remember I touched only the finger 
tips of Monsieur Clemenceau's gloved hand. For- 
tunately, we realized before we left Hollywood that 


this was too ridiculous, and it was not incorporated 
in the picture, nor were many of our other flights of 

The memory of the last scenes always causes me to 
smile, they were such a curious fantasy. I was sup- 
posed to be a sort of Joan of Arc fighting for the 
freedom of the workers of the world, and a vast pro- 
cession was gathered for the march upon the bul- 
warks of the enemy. I was placed at the front on a 
white horse. I might have managed Peggy, for I 
was accustomed to her gait, but alas! Peggy was 
dark, and we must needs have a big white horse for 
that grand occasion. The powerful creature I rode 
was named Sligo, which is Irish, and his tempera- 
ment was like his name. I really believe that he was 
in his element in that wild charge of the imagination. 
Of course it was a motley swarm of people dressed 
in all sorts of queer costumes to represent all the 
peoples of the earth, and there was a dreadful con- 
fusion of horses, shouts, waving banners, and trump- 
ets blown loud and long. Naturally, Sligo became 
restive and charged as he should ; but the violence of 
his movements was disconcerting to me, especially 
as I held the reins in one hand and a trumpet in 
the other, which I was directed to blow every now 
and then. Out there in the fierce California sun I 
grew hotter, redder, and more embarrassed every 
second. The perspiration rolled down my face, and 


the trumpet tasted nasty. When without warning 
Sligo decided to stand up on his hind legs, one of 
the camera men, at the risk of his life, ran under 
him and pulled on an invisible rein to bring him 
down to earth again. I was glad when it was all over, 
and my quaint fancy of leading the people of the 
world to victory has never been so ardent since. 

Chapter XIII 


The picture was not a financial success. My sense 
of pride mutinies against my confession; but we are 
the kind of people who come out of an enterprise 
poorer than we went into it, and I am sorry to say, 
this condition is not always confined to ourselves. 

We returned to our home in Forest Hills and for 
two years lived quietly. But we were faced with the 
necessity of earning more money. The funds my 
friends had provided for my support would cease 
with my death, and if I died before my teacher, she 
would be left almost destitute. The income I had I 
could live on, but I could not save anything. 

In the winter of 1920 we went into vaudeville and 
remained until the spring of 1924. That does not 
mean that we worked continually during all four 
years. We appeared for short periods in and around 
New York, in New England, and in Canada. In 1921 
and 1922 we went from coast to coast on the 
Orpheum Circuit. 

It had always been said that we went into public 
life only to attract attention, and I had letters from 
friends in Europe remonstrating with me about "the 



deplorable theatrical exhibition" into which I had 
allowed myself to be dragged. Now the truth is, I 
went of my own free will and persuaded my teacher 
to go with me. Vaudeville offered us better pay than 
either literary work or lecturing. Besides, the work 
was easier in an essential respect — we usually stayed 
in one place a week, instead of having to travel con- 
stantly from town to town and speak so soon after 
our arrival that we had no time for rest or prepara- 
tion. We were on the stage only twenty minutes in 
the afternoon and evening, and the rules of the 
theatre usually protected us against the friendly in- 
vasion of the crowds who used to swarm around to 
shake hands with us at the lectures. 

My teacher was not happy in vaudeville. She 
could never get used to the rush, glare, and noise 
of the theatre; but I enjoyed it keenly. At first it 
seemed odd to find ourselves on the same ''bill" with 
acrobats, monkeys, horses, dogs, and parrots ; but our 
little act was dignified and people seemed to like it. 

I found the world of vaudeville much more amus- 
ing than the world I had always lived in, and I liked 
it. I liked to feel the warm tide of human life puls- 
ing round and round me. I liked to weep at its sor- 
rows, to be annoyed at its foibles, to laugh at its ab- 
surdities, to be set athrill by its flashes of unexpected 
goodness and courage. I enjoyed watching the actors 
in the workshop of faces and costumes. If I should re- 


late ^^the strength and riches of their state" — the 
powder, the patches and masks, the ribbons, jewels, 
and livery; and if I should describe the charm- 
ing bits of acts which were performed for me off 
stage I should be more voluminous than Who's Who 
in America, I must be content to say I was often 
admitted to the dressing room of the other actors, 
and that many of them let me feel their costumes and 
even went through their acts for me. The thought 
often occurred to me that the parts the actors played 
was their real life, and all the rest was make-believe. 
I still think so, and hope it is true, for the sake of 
many to whom fate is unkind in the real world. 

I can conceive that in time the spectacle might 
have grown stale. I might have come to hear the per- 
sonal confessions of my fellow actors without emo- 
tion, and to regard the details of wild parties and 
excursions with impatience. But I shall always be 
glad I went into vaudeville, not only for the excite- 
ment of it, but also for the opportunities it gave me 
to study life. 

In the nature of things a lecture tour exposes one 
to many unpleasant experiences. Our lecture contract 
required that we collect the money before we went 
on the platform, but that was seldom possible and we 
disliked to imply distrust by demanding payment. 
In Seattle we gave two lectures to appreciative 
audiences, one in the afternoon and the other in the 



evening. The local manager told us he would not be 
able to pay us our share, which was a thousand dol- 
lars, until after the evening performance. He did 
not appear in the theatre after the evening lecture, 
and we had no way of getting our money from him. 
Our manager was not interested in a lawsuit so far 
away, and we were obliged to pay him a percentage 
whether we were paid or not; so he suffered no loss 
on our account. 

This happened many times — in Dunkirk, New 
York; Meadville, Pennsylvania; Ashtabula, Ohio; 
and San Diego and Santa Rosa, California. In no 
case was the town responsible ; it was the fault of the 
local manager. Once when we did demand payment 
and refused to appear when it was not made, the 
audience became indignant, and the next morning 
the newspapers came out with a great headline, 
"Helen Keller refused to speak unless she held the 
money in her hand." We decided never to put our- 
selves in that position again. Once when we spoke at 
Allerton, Iowa, a crowd came to hear us, and 
our share of the proceeds — we were to go fifty-fifty 
with the manager — was over seven hundred dollars. 
It was amusing to see how reluctant the men in 
charge were to pay it. In Vancouver we had so much 
larger audience than the local manager expected that 
he paid us twice as much as the contract called for. 

Some of the theatres where we went were beauti- 


ful, and most of them comfortable. Mr. Albee, who 
is at the head of the organization, is a man 
of singular ability and kindness of heart, and 
he concerns himself earnestly with everything that 
promotes the welfare of the actors and the efficiency 
of their work. Very few of them are permitted to 
come into his presence, but his good will radiates 
through his staff from one end of the system to the 
other. We found most of our managers courteous, 
and some of them were beloved. I shall always be 
grateful to my personal manager, Mr. Harry Weber, 
who never failed us in service and loyalty. Mr. 
Albee is interested not only in the functioning of his 
mammoth machine, but also in the human cogs and 
wheels that make it go. Not one of these small cease- 
lessly moving parts gets out of order but he knows 
it, and makes every effort to repair it, whatever 
the cause or the cost. He has kept individuals in 
shows who are blind or deaf or crippled, but whose 
handicap is cleverly concealed from the public. An 
important branch of his humanitarian work is 
the National Vaudeville Association, which has ten 
thousand members. Each membership carries with it 
a paid-up insurance policy of a thousand dollars, and 
in cases of illness, idleness, or other misfortune, every- 
one is sure to receive financial aid, no matter in what 
part of the world he may be. The Association main- 
tains a sanitarium for tubercular members, and there 


are health camps in California, Arizona, Colorado, 
and other places. 

The audiences always made us feel their interest 
and friendliness. Som^etimes many of them were 
foreigners, and could not understand what we said, 
but their applause and sympathy were gratifying. 
After my teacher had explained how I was taught, 
I made my entrance and gave a brief talk, at the end 
of which the audience was allowed to ask questions. 
Some of them were very funny. Can you tell the time 
of day without a watch? Have you ever thought of 
getting married? Have you ever used a ouija board? 
Do you think business is looking up? Am I going on 
a trip? Why has a cow two stomachs? How much is 
too many? Do you believe in ghosts? Do you think 
it is a blessing to be poor? Do you dream? There 
were hundreds of them. 

I am always intensely conscious of my audience. 
Before I say a word I feel its breath as it comes in 
little pulsations to my face. I sense its appreciation 
or indifiPerence. I found vaudeville audiences espe- 
cially easy to speak before. They were much more 
demonstrative than most others, and showed instantly 
when they were pleased. One of the queerest experi- 
ences I ever had was the first time I spoke from 
a pulpit. The audience seemed so quiet and the read- 
ing desk was so high I felt as if I were speaking to 
them over a wall. A similar experience came when I 

spoke over the radio. I felt as if I were speaking to 
ghosts. There were no life vibrations— no shuffling 
feet, no sound of applause, no odour of tobacco or 
cosmetics, only a blankness into which my words 
floated. I never had that bewildered feeling before a 
vaudeville audience. 

Chapter XIV 


It was while I was in vaudeville that the first 
bereavement came which struck at the very roots 
of my life. My mother died while we were appear- 
ing in Los Angeles. My father's death, which oc- 
curred while I was a young girl sixteen years old, 
never seemed so real to me. But I had had my mother 
all those years and fine ligaments of love and sym- 
pathy had knit us together. 

I have no vivid recollections of her before my 
education began. I have a dim sensation of arms 
about me, and hands that wiped away my tears; but 
such memories are too vague to bring before me a 
picture of her. 

She used to tell me how happy she was when 
I was born. She dwelt on her memories of the eight- 
een months when I could see and hear. She told me 
how, as soon as I could walk, I chased sunbeams and 
butterflies, how I held out my little hands to pet 
every creature I saw and was never afraid. "And 
what wonderful eyes you had 1" she would say, "you 
were always picking up needles and buttons which no 
one else could find." She had a pretty workbasket 



which stood on three slender legs, quite high above 
the floor. It had holes all round near the top. She 
loved to tell how I would come to her knees and lisp 
something which she interpreted to mean, ^'I wonder 
when I shall be tall enough to look through those 
holes and see what is in the basket." She also re- 
membered my delight in the open wood fire, and told 
how I insisted upon sitting up late watching the 
sparks and laughing as they danced up the chimney. 
"Yes, life was good to us both for a few brief 
months," she would say wistfully. Then when she was 
twenty-three came the illness which left me deaf and 
blind, and ^fter that life was never the same to her. 
It was as if a white winter had swept over the June 
of her youth; I know, although she never said it, 
that she suffered more through me than through her 
other children. Her nature was not expansive or 
happy. She made few close friends, and wherever she 
sojourned, the sorrow and loneliness of her spirit 
persisted. The larger opportunities for enjoyment 
and intellectual enrichment which she gained on her 
journeys with us or her visits in our home at Wrent- 
ham did not erase from her heart the sense of tragedy 
and denial which my limitations kept always before 
her. That her suffering was crushed into silence did 
not lessen its intensity. But there was nothing selfish 
in her sorrow. What she had suffered broadened and 
deepened her sympathy for others. 


She never talked about herself. She was sensitive 
even to the point of pain, and shy of revealing her- 
self even to her children. But, veiled as her person- 
ality was, she was always an intimate part of our 
lives. It was inexpressibly sweet the way she said to 
me that her last thought at night and her first thought 
in the morning was of me. She suffered much from 
rheumatism in her hands, and she found it most dif- 
ficult to write in braille, which disappointed her 
keenly because she never liked to have anyone read 
her letters to me. 

It is a comfort to me to believe that all she hoped 
and prayed for was fulfilled in her second child, my 
lovely sister Mildred. Five years after her birth came 
my brother Phillips, who bears the name of one of 
my earliest and dearest friends, Phillips Brooks. 
When my father died, my mother devoted herself to 
the bringing up of her two younger children. (I was 
away from home most of the time, in New York and 
Boston.) Then Mildred married Warren L. Tyson 
of Montgomery, Alabama, and my mother spent the 
later years of her life partly with them and with 

By temperament my mother was not domestic ; but 
after she married my father, she had a large Southern 
household to manage. She carried the whole burden 
of housekeeping, supervision of negro workers, gar- 
dening, looking after the poultry, preparing hams 


and lard, sewing for the children, and entertaining 
the guests whom my father brought home to dinner 
almost every day. She was an expert in the science 
of poultry-raising. Her hams were praised all the 
country round; her jellies and preserves were the 
envy of our neighbours. She went about these homely 
tasks silent, unutterably sad, with me clinging to her 
skirts. Tall and stately as Juno, she stood beside the 
great iron kettles, directing the negroes in all the 
processes of making lard. My teacher often won- 
dered how such a sensitive, high-strung woman could 
endure this sort of work; but my mother never com- 
plained. She threw herself into these tasks as if she 
had no other interest in life. Whatever the problem, 
whether in the house, the chicken yard or out on the 
farm, for the time being she gave her whole mind to 
it. She said to Miss Sullivan once, "Of course lard- 
making hasn't the charm of sculpture or architecture 
or poetry; but I suppose it has its importance in the 
universal scheme of things." 

She was passionately devoted to her gardening and 
to her flowers. Nothing delighted her more than to 
nurse a plant weakling into strength and bloom. The 
wealth of her heart had to spend itself even upon the 
most unworthy of nature's children. One early spring 
morning she went out to look at some young rose 
bushes which she had set out some time before, think- 
ing that the warm days were surely coming. She 


found that a heavy frost had killed them, and she 
wrote me that very morning that *'like David when 
his son died, she lifted up her voice and wept." 

Her love of birds was equal to her love of flowers. 
She would spend hours in the little wood near our 
house in Wrentham watching their pretty antics 
when they made love, or built their nests, or fed the 
young birds and taught them to fly. The mocking 
bird and the thrush were the darlings of her heart. 

My mother talked intelligently, brilliantly, about 
current events, and she had a Southerner's interest in 
politics. But after my mind took a radical turn she 
could never get over the feeling that we had drifted 
apart. It grieves me that I should have added to the 
sadness that weighed upon her, but I have the con- 
solation of remembering that no differences could 
take away from us the delight of talking together. 

She was an omnivorous reader. She welcomed all 
books new or old, in the English of Chaucer or the 
English of Ruskin. She had a horror of mediocrity 
and hypocrisy. I remember the scorn in her words 
as she quoted some bromide that was pronounced by 
a dull celebrity.In keenness of wit she resembled Mrs. 
Carlyle, whose letters she read with pleasure. Mr. 
Macy introduced her to Sydney Smith, and she used 
to say that his sayings were a silent accompaniment 
to her thoughts. BoswelPs Johnson also gave her 
many bright moments. Bernard Shaw irritated her, 

Copyright by Gerhard Sisters Photo Co. 

Miss Keller s mother, Miss Sullivan {Mrs. Macy), 
Miss Keller. 



not because he was radical or sarcastic, but because he 
was a chronic iconoclast. She had no patience with 
Lawrence's books. She would exclaim, "He seems 
incapable of conceiving purity and innocence in a 
woman. To him love is indecent. No modest violets 
grow in the fields of life for him." 

But in the presence of true genius her humility- 
was complete. Walt Whitman did not shock her. She 
knew several of Balzac's books almost by heart. She 
read Rabelais, Montesquieu, and Montaigne. When 
she read Lanier she said '^his ^gray and sober dove,' 
with the eye of faith and the wing of love, nestled in 
her bosom." 

One memorable summer we rented a cottage on 
Lake St. Catherine, in Vermont. How we all enjoyed 
the lovely lake, the pine-covered hills, and the wind- 
ing green alleys they call roads in Vermont! I have 
a mental picture of her which I treasure, seated on 
the little porch which overlooked the lake, in the eve- 
ning, her dear hands idle for a few minutes, while 
she watched the children and young people in boats 
and canoes, with a tender, wistful expression on her 
beautiful face as the sun disappeared behind the 
green hills. 

When the World War burst upon us she refused 
to talk about it, and when she saw the thousands of 
young men who were encamped round about Mont- 
gomery, her heart yearned to shield them from the 



horrors which awaited them. When Russia offered 
her splendid peace terms to the Allies, my mother 
said she wanted to stretch her arms across the ocean 
and embrace the one country which had the courage 
and the generosity to call war a crime against 

Her death came as she had always prayed it would, 
swiftly, before she was old and dependent. She had 
dreaded illness and the slow parting scenes that 
usually precede death, and she desired that she 
might die in her sleep, or suddenly. So it was ac- 
cording to her wish that the end came. She was with 
her dear ones in Montgomery, but no one saw her 

I received the telegram telling of her death two 
hours before I had to go on the stage. I had not even 
known she was ill. Every fibre of my being cried out 
at the thought of facing the audience, but it had to be 
done. Fortunately, they did not know what I was suf- 
fering, and that made it a little easier for my teacher 
and me. One of the questions asked me that day was, 
^'How old are you?" How old, indeed! I felt as old 
as time, and I answered, ''How old do I look?" The 
people laughed, pleased that I had evaded telling 
my age, which they supposed would have been em- 
barrassing to me. Another question was, "Are you 
happy?" I swallowed hard and answered: "Yes, be- 
cause I have confidence in God." Then it was over, 


and for a little while I could sit alone with my sor- 
row. I had absolute faith that we should meet again 
in the Land of Eternal Beauty; but oh, the dreary 
blank her going left in my life! I missed her every- 
where I went over the road she had travelled with 
me. I missed her braille letters, and she seemed 
to have died a second time when I visited my sister 
in Montgomery the following April. The only 
thought that upheld me was that in the Great Be- 
yond where all truth shines revealed she would find 
in my limitations a satisfying sense of God's purpose 
of good which runs like a thread of gold through all 

Chapter XV 

It was in 1 92 1 that the central clearing house which 
had for so many years been recognized as the chief 
need of the blind came into being. It was conceived 
by a blind man, Mr. H. Randolph Latimer, Super- 
intendent of the Western Pennsylvania Institution 
for the Blind, and launched at the annual meeting of 
the American Association of Workers for the Blind, 
in Vinton, Iowa. 

Its first president was Mr. M. C. Migel of New 
York. It is because of his constant helpfulness that 
the American Foundation for the Blind has achieved 
the degree of usefulness which it has to-day. With 
the cooperation of his friends he financed it until 
1924 v^hen an appeal was made to the public for a 
permanent endowment and Mrs. Macy and I were 
asked to lecture in its behalf. 

It is not pleasant to go begging even for the best 
of causes, but in our present civilization most philan- 
thropic and educational institutions are supported 
by public donations and gifts from wealthy 
citizens. This is a wretched way, but we have not yet 

learned a better one, and until we do, individuals 



like myself will continue to travel up and down the 
land, and up and down in the elevators of great 
office buildings, to solicit funds from rich men. We 
will stand at doors and street corners, hat in hand, 
begging pennies from every passer-by, we will climb 
on to the running board of automobiles held in 
traffic to plead with some wealthy person to take our 
precious cause under his golden wing. 

During all the years of lecturing, picture-making, 
and vaudeville I had never ceased to dream of a hap- 
pier world for the sightless, but no practical way of 
realizing this dream had presented itself until now. 
Throughout my journeys all over the country I had 
realized that in spite of all that had been done for 
the blind, in spite of all that had been written about 
them, people still considered them a group apart. 

Dear reader, let me ask you to stop for a moment ' 
and try to visualize your blind neighbour. You have 
met him often in the street, in sunshine and in rain, 
cautiously threading his way among his unseen fel- 
lows, his cane tapping the pavement, his body tense, 
his ears straining to hear sounds that will guide him 
in the invisible maze. You have glanced at him pity- 
ingly, and gone your way thinking how strange his 
thoughts must be, his feelings how different from 
your own. My friend, have done with this cruel 
illusion and try to learn the truth. Hearts are hearts 
and pain is pain, and joy, ambition, and love are in 


the blind man even as in you. He wants the same 
things that you do. Like you he dreams of love and 
success and happiness. You v^ould still be yourself if 
an accident blinded you to-morrov^; your desires 
w^ould be the same. 

You have perhaps thought that his greatest loss is 
that he is not able to enjoy the colours of the sunset, 
the contours of the hills, the moon and the stars, 
but he could tell you that he v^ould not mind very 
much that the blue sky is blotted out if he could shake 
off the thousand petty restraints that encompass him. 
The hardest thing we have to bear is that we cannot 
I go about the simplest matters of life alone. With 
jail our hearts we desire to be strong, free, and 

In most countries and most ages, the blind have 
been considered, with a few outstanding exceptions, 
as objects of charity, of pity, of contempt, even of 
cruelty. The affliction has frequently been looked 
upon as a Divine visitation, and the role of the blind 
man has been that of the beggar by the wayside, and 
his dwelling place has been the almshouse. Yet even 
under these hard conditions there have emerged 
from this realm of never-ending darkness many 
heroic figures. As Milton proudly said, "It is not so 
wretched to be blind as it is not to be capable of en- 
during blindness." 

We do not ask to be coddled. It is the last thing 


tHe blind need. It is not helpful but in the long run 
harmful to buy worthless articles because a blind 
person made them, but for many years kind-hearted 
people have been buying useless and often ugly 
things for no other reason. Quantities of beadwork, 
to take only one example, which could appeal to no 
eye but the eye of pity have passed as specimens of 
what the blind can do. Yet with a lovely design and 
a little supervision the blind can do as beautiful 
beadwork as the seeing. 

Even in the matter of books the seeing have shown 
that they consider us a group apart. They have often 
contributed books of a rather gloomy, preachy char- 
acter to our reading rooms, apparently supposing 
that our books must be in keeping with our mis- 
fortune. But it is worth while to notice that the cheer- 
ful books are well-thumbed while the mournful ones 
stand unmolested in stern dignity on the upper shelf. 

The number of books we have is far greater than 
it was when I was in school, but in comparison with 
those of the seeing we have few indeed. I have been 
told that for the seeing more than 10,000 titles a year 
are published. We have in all, outside of textbooks, 
3150 titles. We are grateful for them, but we are 
hungry for more and more variety. 

Much is being done to assuage this hunger. For- 
merly the fact that a book was in raised print did not 
mean that all the blind could read it, but since the 

Uniform Type Committee of the American Asso- 
ciation of Workers for the Blind has brought about 
the adoption of one system of embossed print 
throughout America, everything henceforth will be 
easily read by all the blind. This was done through 
the generosity of Mr. Migel, who financed the work 
of the committee. The head of the committee was 
Robert B. Irwin, our beloved comrade in the dark 
who is now head of the Bureau of Research and 
Information of the Foundation. Congress gives an 
annual appropriation for the embossing of books and 
many states have chapters of Red Cross transcribers. 
After provision was made for the reeducation of men 
blinded in the War many women throughout the 
country took up the transcribing of books. Not only 
have the blinded soldiers benefited by this service, but 
sightless high school and college students have been 
helped. Learning to write braille is not more difficult, 
and there are still hundreds of women who might 
brighten the dark hours of the blind by copying 
stories or poems for them. 

There are among the blind to-day many with 
intelligence enough to share the responsibilities and 
rewards of our common humanity. The worst period 
that most of them go through comes when they 
graduate from school. No matter what their hopes 
may have been they are likely to see them fade away. 


The prejudice of the seeing to whom blindness means 
inefficiency is such that the blind, confronted with 
the practical problem of making a living, turn away 
from competition in the open market to the work- 
shop. Not infrequently they escape the workshop 
only to find themselves street musicians. The street 
life pays them better, but those who follow it deepen 
the public prejudice against the blind. 

To-day no blind person can succeed in any of the 
higher professions unless he possesses a fighting spirit 
and a personality that attracts attention. Even then he 
needs a strong helping hand. I have known students 
to spend ten years and more in schools for the blind, 
receive a thorough training in piano, violin, organ, 
or voice, at a cost to the state of thousands of dollars, 
and after leaving school full of hope and ambition, 
find themselves back in their own homes with their 
uneducated families without a piano, without money, 
without friends, the institution which educated them 
having left them to shift for themselves as best they 
might. I am thinking of one young man who was 
considered a virtuoso who is now earning his liveli- 
hood tuning pianos. He cannot play any more; his 
hands are so stiff from carrying his bag of tools. 
There is a young lady not far from my own home 
with a beautifully trained voice who earns a meagre 
wage folding circulars. I can think of many others 


with various talents who might be musicians, writers, 
editors, statesmen and ministers if they had been 
given assistance when they left school. 

Until the Foundation came into being there was 
only one national organization at work on the prob- 
lems of the blind. That was the National Committee, 
which is now the National Society for the Preven- 
tion of Blindness. It was, and still is, doing one of 
the most important pieces of work in this country. It 
is not only helping conserve the sight of large num- 
bers of children who have defective vision which, if 
neglected, will develop into blindness, it is estab- 
lishing sight saving classes in the public schools and 
it is investigating the causes of blindness in industry 
and elsewhere, and is getting laws passed to lessen 
the danger from preventable causes. 

It seems hard to believe now that twenty years ago 
the leading cause of blindness in the new-born, 
ophthalmia neonatorum, could not even be discussed 
in public. Massachusetts, as I have said in an earlier 
chapter, was one of the leaders in this campaign. She 
passed a law which was immediately followed in 
other states. The law required that every case of 
disease of the eye in the new-born should be reported 
and investigated. The remedy was provided gra- 
tuitously, with a statement from the highest medical 
authorities as to its purity and safety. To-day 
twenty-nine states have passed similar laws. I 


think it was the happiest moment of my life when 
Mr. Allen, director of the Massachusetts School for 
the Blind, told me only a few months ago that the 
day nursery for blind babies which was once full of 
little sightless ones, with a long waiting list, is now 
almost empty. The work of prevention is close to 
my heart, and I am sorry that it is not possible for 
me to take a more active part in it. I have been 
greatly encouraged by the interest the Lions have 
shown. In various places extending from Black- 
well, Oklahoma, to Tsing Tao, China, they have 
opened free clinics for eye correction among chil- 
dren. To-day in New York and indeed everywhere 
thousands of oculists are spending their lives to make 
people see better and to ward off blindness in the 
eyes of the new-born. A great hospital has just been 
opened in connection with Johns Hopkins Medical 
School in Baltimore under Dr. William Holland 
Wilmer, one of the leading ophthalmologists in the 
world, who has retired from private practice in order 
to devote himself to teaching and research in con- 
nection with diseases of the eye. This is a great step 
in the right direction. 

The doctors in New York are flanked by an army 
of nurses who teach the patients how to carry out the 
doctor's directions. Many of the patients are not 
only poor ; they are ignorant, and numbers of them can 
neither speak nor understand English. This work in 


the homes is very important, very necessary, and very 
costly, but it is work that has to be done, and I wish 
that those people who picture New York as a selfish 
city grabbing all things and making no return could 
see how marvellously she handles this tremendous 

What the Foundation proposed to do was to cor- 
relate the scattered and disorganized work for the 
blind, to prevent duplication of effort, to see to it that 
each class of the blind receives the particular help 
it needs, and to give direction and effectiveness to 
the local commissions. 

When we started on the campaign for the Foun- 
dation four years ago the public received us with 
open arms. For three years we covered the country 
from coast to coast. We addressed over 250,000 
people at 249 meetings in 123 cities. Through attend- 
ing innumerable luncheons and receptions and pay- 
ing endless calls on persons likely to be interested in 
our work we came to understand what must be the 
exhaustion of campaigning political candidates. But 
we had an advantage over the politicians : they met 
divided support while our cause appealed to all 

The wiseacres say that after forty we cannot 
expect many pleasant surprises. I have not found 
this true. Some of the most joyful surprises I have 
known in my life have come since my fortieth birth- 


day, many of them in connection with my work for f 
the blind. Dr. Henry van Dyke is one. 

When the time came to select a national chair- 
man for our campaign, I remembered Elbert Hub- 
bard's advice, "When you want to get something 
done, go to the busiest man you know. The other kind 
hasn't time." My mind leapt at once to Dr. van 
Dyke. I knew he was a busy man. I recalled the 
things he had been doing the past twenty-five years — 
teaching in Princeton, preaching and lecturing about 
the country for several years, three years in the 
diplomatic service, a year in the navy during the 
World War, many years of writing books that people 
loved, still more years of making the acquaintance 
of the great out-of-doors, and bringing up a family 
of five children and nine grandchildren. Even if I 
passed over the hours Dr. van Dyke spent fishing 
in many waters, I still felt that he was the man to 
launch a new project and to see it through. 

I could not have picked a better one. Dr. van 
Dyke is the kind of a friend to have when one 
is up against a difficult problem. He will take 
trouble, days and nights of trouble, if it is for some- 
body else or for some cause he is interested in. "I'm 
not an optimist," says Dr. van Dyke, "there's too 
much evil in the world and in me. Nor am I a pessi- 
mist; there is too much good in the world and in 
God. So I am just a meliorist, believing that He wills 



to make the world better, and trying to do my bit to 
help and wishing that it were more." 

The generosity and enthusiasm of Mr. Otto Kahn 
was a great help to us in the beginning. The far- 
reaching beams of his benevolence have illuminated 
the world of the dark not only in this country but in 
England as well. 

Throughout the country newspapers opened their 
pages to us. Churches, schools, synagogues, women's 
clubs, the Junior Leagues, the Boy and Girl Scouts 
and the service clubs, especially the Lions, have as- 
sisted us in every way, holding meetings, soliciting 
funds, giving luncheons, and making contributions. 
The Lions, in particular, have made the work for the 
blind their major activity, just as the Rotarians have 
made crippled children their special charge. 

Nearly everywhere we met with a spirit of coop- 
eration that made our hearts glad. In the winter of 
1926 I spent a week in Washington. Dr. van Dyke 
came from Princeton to assist me, and our hopes were 
high when we knew that the cause of the blind was 
to be heard in the First City of the land. It was 
there that the National Library for the Blind was 
established, and an annual appropriation granted for 
embossing books; there, too, that the work of re- 
habilitating our blinded soldiers had begun. Our 
hopes were not disappointed. 

One morning at twelve o'clock n\y teacher and I 


called upon President Coolidge at the White House. 
He received us most kindly. I had always heard that 
he was cold, but there was not the least coldness in 
his hand. He had only a few minutes to spare from a 
strenuous day, but he listened attentively to what I 
told him about the Foundation, then, placing my 
fingers on his lips, he said, "I am greatly interested 
in your work, and I will cooperate with you in every 
possible way." 

He proved he was sincere by becoming our Hon- 
orary President, and by sending me his private check 
for a generous donation. I found in Mrs. Coolidge 
one whose heart is responsive to every whisper of sor- 
row. She told me she had always been interested in 
the deaf— she had taught the deaf at Northampton 
many years ago — and added that she would be happy 
to help brighten the dark world of the sightless. 

I also called up Senator Borah, Thomas Schall 
(the blind Senator), and Mr. and Mrs. Lansing. 
They all did what they could to make my visit to 
Washington a success. Many other people in Wash- 
ington helped with money and sympathy, among 
them Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor and his wife, Elsie, 
Dr. Bell's daughter, my playmate of long ago, Phil 
and Lenore Smith, Mrs. Frederic Hicks, the Ger- 
man Ambassador, Herr von Maltzan, and Mrs. 
Wadsworth, the daughter of John Hay. Mrs. Wads- 
worth gave a beautiful tea in her home, and her kind- 


ness will ever be a part of my most affectionate 
memories of Washington. 

In Detroit my friend of many years in the work 
for the sightless, Mr. Charles F. F. Campbell, di- 
rector of the Detroit League for the Handicapped, 
was indefatigable in his efforts to capture that city 
for my cause. One night at a mass meeting sponsored 
by the Junior League we raised forty-two thousand 
dollars before we left the auditorium. Nor did the 
interest of Detroit stop after my departure. Only 
within the last few days I have received checks rang- 
ing from one dollar to fifty-five hundred dollars. 
Among those who have made Detroit the banner city 
of my crusade are Mr. and Mrs. Henry Joy, Mrs. 
Seyburn, Mr. Warren, Mr. W. O. Briggs, the six 
Fisher brothers, and Mr. and Mrs. Edsel Ford. 

Next to this meeting in Detroit comes one which 
we held in Philadelphia. It was the second meeting 
of the campaign, when very little was known of the 
Foundation and its purposes. Mr. Edward Bok pre- 
sided, and Dr. van Dyke poured a flood of golden 
words into the responsive hearts of the people. We 
raised twenty-two thousand dollars that Sunday 

In two large cities, St. Louis and Chicago, workers 
for the sightless requested me not to speak, and we 
have respected their wishes. Only one city invited 
us and then gave us the cold shoulder. For some 


reason I am unable fully to understand Buffalo re- 
fused to be interested in the national aspect of the 
work for the blind. When I arrived at the auditorium 
where the meeting was to take place, and found only 
about twenty persons present, I thought there must 
have been a mistake in the date given out; but alas! 
there was not even that salve for my bruised feelings. 
The people were simply not interested. In five days 
I collected only about three thousand dollars, while 
in Rochester, which has about half the population of 
Buffalo, more than fifteen thousand dollars was given 
in less time. No doubt part of my success was due 
to the enthusiasm and generosity of Mrs. Edmund 
Lyon whom I had first met many years before, when 
my teacher and Dr. Bell and I visited the Rochester 
School for the Deaf where she was teaching. Two 
other friends in Rochester whom I remember with 
gratitude are Mr. and Mrs. Harper Sibley who held 
up the work for the blind with both hands. 

I had thought that the stars in filmland might be 
especially sensitive to our appeal, since the breath 
and substance of their life was light, but I found 
that I was mistaken. I wrote letter after letter which 
I left at the studios, but never an answer did I re- 
ceive, except from Mary Pickford. The silence that 
came back penetrated even my deaf ears. Naturally 
my heart thrilled at the responsiveness of Mary 
Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. 


I had, of course, known Mary Pickford as a child 
knows the characters of fairyland. I did not think this 
shadow acquaintance would ever become a reality, 
but fairy tales do sometimes come true and I have a 
bright memory of the day when the shadow Mary 
was transformed into a smiling little girl wearing 
a faded gingham frock and patched shoes and two 
long braids of golden hair. She had invited us to the 
studio grounds for lunch. She rushed out of a tiny 
cottage to greet us. I was accompanied by Mrs. 
Macy, Miss Thomson, and Mr. Charles Hayes of 
the American Foundation staff. She said that Mr. 
Fairbanks would be in soon, but we would not wait 
for him. "When we are working," she said, "we can't 
be regular about anything. That is why we live here 
most of the time when we are making pictures." She 
was working on "Little Annie Rooney" at the time, 
and Mr. Fairbanks was just finishing "Don Q." 
While we were eating lunch, I told Mary (I simply 
cannot call that slip of a girl in faded gingham and 
patched shoes Mrs. Fairbanks) the object of my 
visit to California. She listened intently and made 
intelligent comments while I talked. She said that 
before she became a motion picture actress, she had 
been on the stage, and in her first play had taken the 
part of a blind girl. She said that it had been in 
her mind a long time to make a picture with a young 
blind girl the central figure. She gave an attractive 


sketch of the story and asked me if I would offer sug- 
gestions when the time came. I promised to come out 
to Hollywood and see to it that her blind girl did 
none of the absurd, impossible things which the 
sightless are usually made to do on the stage. 

Douglas Fairbanks came in, just as we finished 
lunch, with his director, Donald Crisp. Mr. Fair- 
banks was limping slightly, as he had sprained his 
ankle in one of the episodes in the picture, and there 
was a long gash on Mr. Crisp's face where Don Q 
had cut him with a whip. Mary told him what we 
had been talking about and said that she wanted to 
give a percentage of the proceeds of the picture to 
the blind. He replied, 'That's splendid, Mary," but 
the picture has not yet been made. I believe there 
was some difficulty about the plot she had in mind 
then, but I still hope that she will carry out her 
beautiful plan. 

We spent the afternoon watching Mary work. She 
seated me within the "location," so that I could feel 
her and her hoodlum gang running past, and sense 
their yells and the commotion when the two hostile 
gangs encountered each other. Several times a scene 
had to be repeated because the boys were so interested 
in seeing Mrs. Macy spell to me that they fumbled. 
When we said good-bye I realized with new poign- 
ancy how good Mary was to see me when she was 
working on a picture. I carried away in my heart 


an image of a little body tense with exertion, a sweet, 
warm face, and the touch of hot, dirty little hands 
that were full of good will. 

One of the pleasantest contacts that I made on this 
trip was with Carrie Jacobs Bond. We dined with 
her delightfully, and afterwards, in the drawing 
room, she sang her poems which she had set to music. 
The songs were so sweet and intimate one felt that 
if one could sit there a while longer one could sing 
the songs oneself. 

It was on this trip also that I visited Luther Bur- 
bank's experimental gardens in Santa Rosa and saw 
plants and fruits and flowers that never were found 
on earth before. The man who guided me had 
created these miracles. Very gently he put my hand 
on the desert cactus which no living creature could 
touch without pain. Beside it he showed me the 
thornless cactus he had made from it — smooth and 
pleasant and good to eat. 

It is not only because of my charming visits with 
them that I treasure the memory of these friends, but 
also because of the warmth of their interest in the 
blind. Another friend who was zealous for the 
work in Southern California was Dr. John Willis 
Baer of Pasadena. He is a yea-sayer, and his lips 
were touched with fire when he pleaded the cause of 
America's hundred thousand blind. 

For two years now I have not been able to continue 


my lectures for the campaign owing to the necessity 
of keeping a promise of some years standing by writ- 
ing this book, but I have written many letters, and 
when the book is finished I shall go on the road again. 
We have still a million and a half dollars to raise. 

Nothing has made me happier during these two 
years than the way the gifts have kept coming in. 
Last year Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who has 
made of his millions a weapon to shake ignorance 
out of its citadel, contributed fifty thousand dollars. 
A few days ago he added an equal amount to his 
original donation. Mr. M. C. Migel, without whom 
the Foundation could scarcely have lived through 
those first hard years, has made a further contribu- 
tion of fifty thousand dollars. Mr. Felix Warburg 
has given fifty thousand, and Mr. William Ziegler, 
the son of the Mrs. Ziegler who founded the 
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, gave ten 
thousand. Mr. Samuel Mather of Cleveland, Harry 
Goldman, Mrs. Felix Fuld of Newark, and the 
Nathan Hofheimer foundation have given five 
thousand each. Mr. Graselli, who established a home 
for the adult blind in Cleveland, put his generous 
donation into my hand with such sv^eet trepidation 
that it seemed as if he, not I, was the beggar at the 
gate. It is with an especially grateful heart that I 
write the name of Mrs. Fuld. Her kindness to me 
personally is a lovely thing in my life. The contribu- 


tions have become so numerous as to make it impos- 
sible to mention each by name. While I am praising 
the large givers my heart is remembering those 
whose names cannot be written for multitude, 
yet the fund has been built up of their mites, 
and the work of the Foundation has been made 
possible by their generosity. As Miss Thomson opens 
the mail checks tumble out of envelopes from school 
children and Sunday school classes, from Germans 
and Chinese and Japanese, from old soldiers, from 
the deaf and the blind. This morning's mail brought 
a donation of five thousand dollars from a group in 
Detroit, and another of one dollar from a poor work- 
ing girl. 

The way children have responded has been very 
touching. They bring their little banks and empty 
them into my lap and they write dear letters offer- 
ing the money given them for soda water and candy. 
At a meeting in Endicott, N. Y., a fifteen-year-old 
boy who was an invalid, Bradford Lord, sent me a 
wonderful bouquet of roses and a contribution of five 
hundred dollars towards the Endowment Fund. The 
roses have withered long ago, and the young heart 
that stirred to that fine impulse has ceased to beat, 
but the lovely deed will blossom forever in the gar- 
den of my soul. 

Chapter XVI 


It is seldom now that I think of my deprivations, 
and they never sadden me as they once did when I 
had bitter moments of rebellion because I must sit 
at life's shut gate and fight down the passionate im- 
pulses of my nature. I know that a great many people 
pity me because I can show so little visible proof of 
living. They are often supercilious and sometimes 
contemptuous of the "poor thing" who is so shut out 
from everything they know. Meeting me in one of 
the noisy arenas of commerce they are as startled as if 
they had encountered a ghost on Broadway. At such 
times I smile inwardly and gather my dreams about 
me. My reason for living would be lost if the reality 
they think they see did not hide her cruel face from 
me under a veil of pleasant illusions — if they are 
illusions. One will not quarrel over definitions if one 
has the substance, and I feel that, since I have found 
existence rich in happiness and interest, I have the 

It would be wonderful to find myself free from 
even a small part of my physical limitations. It would 
be wonderful to walk around town alone with the 



key of the house in my bag to let myself in and out, 
to come and go without a word to anyone, to read 
the newspapers without waiting, and pick out a 
pretty handkerchief or a becoming hat in the shops. 

Oh, the weariness of sitting hours upon hours in 
the same attitude as I have to do sometimes, not dar- 
ing to look around or move an arm lest I be stared at 
or my uncertain movements misconstrued! I cannot 
see people staring at me; but I am always accom- 
panied by persons who can see, and it is embarrassing 
to them. I am told that in the Orient people avert 
their eyes when a blind man passes, and the Arabs 
cover their eyes with their hands when they enter his 
dwelling. I wish this sensibility were more prevalent 
here. I understand perfectly the state of mind which 
caused Lafcadio Hearn to go to Japan, where the 
people were too courteous to notice his ungainly 

I seem now to be complaining, but sitting here in 
my study, surrounded by my books, enjoying the 
intimate companionship of the great and the wise, I 
sometimes try to realize what my life might have 
been if Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe had not had the 
imagination to realize that the immortal spirit of 
Laura Bridgman had not died when her physical 
senses were sealed up. When Dr. Howe began her 
education those afflicted as I am with blindness and 
deafness were referred to in legal treatises as idiots. 


Dr. Howe frequently quoted from Blackstone's 
Commentaries the following passage: 

A man is not an idiot, if he hath any glimmerings of reason 
so he can tell his parents, his age, or the like matters. But a man 
who is born deaf, dumb, and blind is looked upon by the law as 
in the same state with an idiot; he being supposed incapable of 
any understanding, as wanting all those senses which furnish the 
mind with ideas. 

I remember Laura very well. My interest in her 
began almost with my first word. My teacher knew 
her intimately. She had lived in the same cottage 
with her at the Perkins Institution; and it was Laura 
who taught her the manual alphabet. Miss Sullivan 
has told me how excited Laura was when she learned 
that her friend was going to Alabama to teach a blind 
deaf child. She had much advice to give as to my 
training. She admonished Miss Sullivan not to spoil 
me by letting me become disobedient. She made the 
clothes for a doll which the blind girls at the Insti- 
tution sent me, and this doll was the object selected 
for my first word. She wrote to Miss Sullivan fre- 
quently in the early days of my education. 

Laura was one of the first persons whom Miss 
Sullivan took me to see when I visited the Institution. 
We found her sitting by the window in her room 
crocheting lace. She recognized my teacher's hand 
instantly, and seemed very glad to see her. She kissed 

me kindly; but when I tried to examine the lace, she 
instinctively put it out of my reach, spelling rather 
emphatically, "I'm afraid your hands are not clean." 
Her hands were beautiful, finely formed, delicate, 
and expressive. I wanted to feel her face;, but she 
shrank away like a mimosa blossom from my peering 
fingers, for the same reason, no doubt, that she would 
not let me touch the lace. Laura was extremely dainty 
in all her ways, and exquisitely neat. My strong, im- 
pulsive movements disturbed her greatly. She said 
to Miss Sullivan, "You have not taught her to be 
very gentle." To me she said, emphasizing each 
letter, "You must not be forward when calling on a 
lady." After that I decided to sit on the floor; but 
Laura jerked me up and spelled, "You must not sit 
on the floor when you have on a clean dress. You will 
muss it. You must remember many things when you 
understand them." 

In my eagerness to kiss her good-bye I trod on her 
toes, which greatly annoyed her, and made me feel 
like the bad little girl of the Sunday school books. 

Later she told Miss Sullivan I was "vivacious, but 
not blunt." To me she seemed like a statue I had once 
felt in a garden, she was so motionless, and her hands 
were so cool, like flowers that have grown in shady 

My experience and Laura's were so closely paral- 
lel in their outward aspects that we have often been 


compared. We were about the same age when we lost 
our sight and hearing. We were aHke in that ahhough 
our parents and friends were exceedingly kind to us 
we both grew restless, willful, and destructive be- 
cause we had no adequate means of expressing our 
desires. It was when Laura was about seven years 
old that Dr. Howe came to her rescue. He says that 
he found her a well-formed child with a nervous, 
sanguine temperament, a large and beautifully 
shaped head, healthy and active. In her letters Miss 
Sullivan describes me in almost these same words; 
oddly enough we both had blue eyes and light brown 
hair. And I, too, was seven years old when my 
education began. 

Here the resemblance ends. We were educated in 
a different manner. This is a subject into which I 
should like to enter more fully, but obviously I am 
not the person to compare the methods of my own 
education with those employed in teaching Laura 
Bridgman and other deaf-blind children; I leave the 
task to those who are more detached. From what I 
have read of Laura I am sure that she was bright and 
eager, and I believe that if she had had my teacher 
she would have outshone me. 

Of all the blind-deaf people I have known the one 
closest to me in temperament and sympathy of ideas 
is Madame Berthe Galeron, a French woman with 
whom I have corresponded for over twenty years. 


We both find our chief delight and freedom in books. 
We both feel the impediment of deafness far more 
keenly than that of blindness. Both our lives have 
been made beautiful with affection and friendship. 
As my teacher is ever by my side, making the way 
straight before me, so has Monsieur Galeron watched 
over his wife for thirty years, guarding her against 
every hardship. On the other hand Madame Galeron 
has always been content to dream and sing while I 
have ever been impatient for the utmost activity I 
could compass. 

Madame Galeron lost her sight completely when 
she was ten years old, and her hearing partially a few 
weeks later. At first this deafness was not serious; 
for with a little effort she could still understand what 
was said to her, and enjoy music. She was educated 
with care and devotion by her father, a dis- 
tinguished French professor, who fostered her taste 
for literary work. She wrote several plays, two of 
which were acted in Paris. During the years that 
followed she wrote the book of poems, Dans Ma 
Nuit, by which she is best known. Among her father's 
friends were great men in whose intellectual talk she 
delighted. One of them, Victor Hugo, addressed a 
poem to her in which he called her "La grande 
Voyante." And truly; for with her wonderful powers 
of imagination and memory she penetrated deeply 
into the intimacies of life. 


It was when her hearing finally failed that she 
tasted the real bitterness of affliction. 

She and her husband had been out for a little while, 
and on their return they sat down to read together. 
She has told me in her letters how she used to love his 
voice. 'When he read to me," she says, ''we were 
most completely together, and our spirits met in 
exquisite feeling." But when they settled down on 
this fateful day to enjoy Pierre Loti's Au Maroc, 
something strange happened. M. Galeron had hardly 
begun to speak when she experienced a buzzing in 
her ear. The syllables kept repeating themselves and 
clashing like discordant echoes. After a few minutes 
she was obliged to give up in despair. In a day or 
two she could hear neither voices nor noises of any 
kind. Her ear died, as she expressed it, and for the 
first time she was quite shut out from the music and 
the brilliant intercourse she so passionately loved. 

Fortunately, Monsieur Galeron knew the braille 
system, and from that time he and the writing frame 
were inseparable. He wrote everything he could to 
amuse, comfort, and encourage her. At the end of 
each day she waited for his return from work as the 
shipwrecked wait for aid, and his wonderful affec- 
ition always roused her out of her nightmare. Madame 
Galeron declares that no one can ever imagine their 
efforts to prevent the cruel barriers of silence from 
separating them until they read in The Story of My 


Life that I could read the lips. This was the begin- 
ning of our friendship. Madame Galeron asked me 
many questions about this means of communication. 
The first time she tried it she was able to read from 
the lips of a friend a sonnet of Heredia. In a letter 
full of delight she wrote to me, "What joy this suc- 
cess brought me. I was saved 1 Now I know I shall 
always enjoy sweet communion with my loved ones." 

I have received a letter from Mme. Galeron to- 
day with a copy of her poems in braille. These poems 
offer to posterity a precious example of courage and 
sweetness. I think that perhaps when the generals 
and statesmen of France are forgotten the poems will 
remain a testimony to the energy of a spirit uncon- 
quered by the disaster which overwhelmed its out- 
ward life. 

I saw more of Theodocia Pearce than of any other 
deaf-blind person. She was a sweet girl from Brant- 
ford, Canada, with whom fate had dealt cruelly. 
Besides losing her sight and hearing at the age of 
twelve, she suffered from spinal curvature and had 
to be strapped to her bed for three years. For several 
years she wrote me letters in the form of dainty 
poems. Then she came to New York, urged, she said, 
by a tameless desire for adventure. Four years later 
she died, worn out by her fight against forces she had 
not the physical strength to resist. She wrote a book of 


poems which she called, Lights from Little Lanterns, 
which she dedicated to me. 

Helen Schulz is another deaf-blind girl who 
proves that the spirit can sing in spite of limitations. 
She was adopted fourteen years ago by Miss Lydia 
Hayes, a blind woman who is the head of the New 
Jersey Commission for the Blind. Miss Hayes has 
often told me, her fingers a-tremble with emotion, 
that when she saw Miss Sullivan's beautiful work 
with me, she resolved that she, too, would bring the 
light of joy into the life of a deaf-blind child. It is a 
touching story how under her loving care the wistful 
lonely child has grown into a happy young woman. A 
similar case is that of Helen Martin who, though she 
has not heard a sound or seen the light since her 
childhood, plays the piano. Those who go to her con- 
certs express surprise at her delicacy of touch. It was 
through Miss Rebecca Mack, my friend whom I call 
the champion of the deaf-blind, that a fund was 
raised which gave her freedom to develop her 
musical talent. 

There used to be at the Nebraska School for the 
Blind a merry girl of thirteen who wrote me letters 
so full of delight in her studies that I could feel the 
mischievous, joyous spirit laughing out of her dotted 
pages. She said she was so busy learning new things 
every day that she had no time to think of her mis- 


fortunes. When I met her a few years ago during 
my visit to Detroit in behalf of the blind I found that 
she had married a man who worked at the Ford 
plant. She told me how cleverly he had contrived to 
make ''the dearest little home you can imagine — a 
home I keep myself." She threw up her little hand 
eagerly and hurried on, "That isn't all. I have a 
beautiful, healthy darling boy, seven years old. I 
have everything any woman can want! There's no 
incompleteness in my life!" 

Another interesting blind-deaf woman is Katie 
McGirr, who for a number of years earned a living 
for herself and her mother at the office of the Matilda 
Ziegler Magazine for the Blind. She read the proofs 
of the magazine each month as they came off the 
press, and she copied on the typewriter the hundreds 
of letters which Mr. Holmes, the editor, received in 
dotted type, and which he could not read himself. 
Since he did not know the manual alphabet he used 
to communicate with her by writing script in her 
hand or on her arm or back. I am happy to say that 
Katie now has a small pension from the state of 
New York. 

Every now and then I have had the pleasure of 
meeting again Tommy Stringer, whom I first knew 
when we were both children. The last time was when 
a vaudeville engagement took me to Syracuse, New 
York, where he lives with some friends. He told me 


proudly that he made crates and lettuce frames for a 
living, and he described his room full of tools and 
things he tried to invent ''out of his own head." As 
he spelled into my hand, I remembered the little boy 
v^ho once lay in a hospital bereft of light, neglected 
by his family, no one near to love him, and I v^as 
more glad than ever that my teacher and I had per- 
suaded Mr. Anagnos to let Tommy come to the 
Kindergarten for the Blind. 

I could go on writing page after page about the 
deaf-blind. Naturally this class of the handicapped 
appeals to me more strongly than any other. It dis- 
tresses me to think that though forty years have 
passed since I was restored to my human heritage, 
the question of providing for those who dwell forever 
in silence and darkness remains unsettled to this day. 

Many problems present themselves. One of the 
greatest needs is of a census of the blind-deaf in the 
United States. Rebecca Mack has for the past two 
years been engaged in making such a census. Thus 
far she has three hundred and seventy-nine names. 
Father Stadelman thinks there may be as many as 
two thousand, including the old and infirm. Fifteen 
of those whose names Miss Mack has are of school 
age and should be taught. 

I have often been asked for suggestions as to the 
best way of caring for such children. They are widely 
scattered over the country. Very few of the parent? 


are able to afford a private teacher, and even those 
who can have difficulty in finding one who is willing 
to go to the place where the child lives. It is too much 
to ask the teachers in either the schools for the blind 
or for the deaf to look after these doubly unfortunate 
ones. Such an arrangement does not do justice either 
to the teacher or the pupil. Moreover, the problem 
is not for the average teacher, but for the one 
who has special training, ability, and imagination. 
Each deaf-blind child is different from every other, 
and should, therefore, receive individual attention. 

I have never favoured a special school for these 
children, but perhaps in the end it will be the wisest 
way to help them. I would rather see each state make 
a special appropriation for each child, and place him 
in the state school for the blind with a special teacher. 
In this way the child will have the companionship 
of other children, and will be much nearer to his own 
home than he would be if a national school was 
established. I say a school for the blind rather than 
for the deaf because the blind have a better command 
of language. It has been the experience of the Perkins 
Institution that blind children are quick to learn the 
manual alphabet and talk to those who cannot see 
and hear. 

The importance of the early education of the blind- 
deaf cannot be over-emphasized. It was most fortu- 
nate for Madame Galeron, for instance, that she had 


acquired the use of language before her affliction 
came. It was also fortunate that there was no gap in 
her education. If the education of one who has seen 
and heard is begun as soon as deafness and blindness 
come, a large number of sense impressions may be 
retained. If the child has learned to speak the voice 
may be preserved. In cases where instruction is de- 
ferred too long, the blind-deaf lose initiative and 
desire to learn. 

Very few of them are especially gifted. The 
causes of their affliction have often affected their 
minds adversely, but not always. And, from what I 
know of tests which have been conducted among 
them, I think their sensory equipment is in no way 
remarkable. Mine is certainly not. 

All my life I have been the subject of tests. People 
in the possession of their physical faculties seem to 
have a great curiosity to find out how those who lack 
one or more senses inform themselves of their sur- 

The playmates of a blind child love to test his 
ability to locate them, to orientate himself in a 
strange place and to distinguish objects which they 
put into his hands. Children, as a rule, are very 
matter-of-fact in their observations. They have not 
the inclination, so strong in adults, to exaggerate. 
They quite frankly announce that the blind child 
didn't hear them when they tiptoed quite close, or 


that he didn't know Mary from Dorothy at first, or 
that he ran into Jimmy when he stood in the middle 
of his path. Their observations may be crude; but 
certainly they are unprejudiced. 

There is a tendency in the grown-up investigator 
to believe that a missing sense is compensated for by 
a superior capacity of the other senses. The only 
superiority there is comes with use and intensive 
training. When the eye is empty of light, a greater 
necessity is laid upon the remaining senses, and 
through the natural process of education they are 

I think people do not usually realize what an 
extensive apparatus the sense of touch is. It is apt to 
be confined in our thoughts to the finger-tips. In 
reality, the tactual sense reigns throughout the body, 
and the skin of every part, under the urge of necessity, 
becomes extraordinarily discriminating. It is ap- 
proximately true to say that every particle of the 
skin is a feeler which touches and is touched, and the 
contact enables the mind to draw conclusions regard- 
ing the qualities revealed by tactual sensation, such 
as heat, cold, pain, friction, smoothness, and rough- 
ness, and the vibrations which play upon the sur- 
face of the body. 

This sense is the chief medium between me and 
the outer world. The hand is the most highly de- 
veloped organ of sense. The finger-tips are supplied 


with nerves more abundantly than the rest of the 
body. But it is not altogether the rich endowment of 
nerves that gives the hand its efficiency. The arrange- 
ment of the thumb and fingers, also the motions of the 
wrist, elbow, and arm enable the hand to accommo- 
date itself to many surfaces and contacts. 

The exercise of the sense of touch covers a wide 
field of sensation. The effort to determine with 
scientific accuracy the nature of these sensations 
was the object of some experiments which Dr. 
Frederick Tilney, professor of neurology at Co- 
lumbia University, conducted with me recently. 
I wonder if any other individual has been so mi- 
nutely investigated as I have been by physicians, 
psychologists, physiologists, and neurologists. I can 
think of only two kinds of tests I have not undergone. 
So far I have not been vivisected or psychoanalyzed. 
To scientists I am something to be examined like an 
aerolite or a sunspot or an atom! I suppose I owe it 
to a merciful Providence that I have not been 
separated — actually separated into ions and electrons. 
I suppose it is only a matter of time until they will 
turn an alpha particle of charged helium into the 
dull substance of my body, and knock the nucleus 
into a million particles. The only consolation there is 
in such a possibility is that it will be very hard for a 
taxicab to hit those miniature me's. 

My scientific tormentors bring all kinds of instru- 


ments with long Greek names and strange shapes and 
appalling ingenuity. Like diabolical genii they check 
off one's faults and little idiosyncrasies, and record 
them, so that any gossip may learn them by rote, and 
cast them into the eyes of all the world. Like Cassius, 
I could weep, thus having my slight equipment dis- 
played, until ''they do appear as huge as high 

When the moment of the test arrives you screw 
your courage to the sticking point, and await the as- 
sault of a score of little fiends which alight upon your 
body. With mechanical precision they pinch, prick, 
squeeze, press, sting, and buzz. One counts your 
breaths, another counts your pulse, another tries if 
you are hot or cold, if you blush, if you know when 
to cry and laugh, and how fear and anger taste, and 
how it feels to swing round and round like a large 
wooden top, and if it is pleasant being an electric 
battery, and shooting out sparks of lightning — for 
fun. Resignedly you permit them to bind your 
wrists with rubber cuffs which they inflate, asking, 
''Is it tight or loose?" "Oh, no," you answer, "it 
doesn't hurt, my arm is quite paralyzed." 

Then comes a procession of vibratory tests, tuning 
forks, and clashing cymbals. A twin sister of a 
vacuum cleaner climbs your back. An orchestra bel- 
lows vibrations of the nth degree of pandemonium. 
Then comes the little Pallas-aesthesiometer to meas- 


ure the number of high, thin vibrations you can feel. 

Then your head is screwed into a vise-like instru- 
ment, and your fingers and joints are moved up and 
down rapidly. You are asked which finger, which 
joint is moving, and whether the motion is up or 
down. You say whatever comes into your head, and 
trust to the instrument to tell the truth. 

The tests continue hour after hour, and always a 
sense of the untrustworthiness of your sensations is 
borne in upon you. There is a monotonous murmur 
as the results are read that keep you informed how 
short you are falling of what was expected of you. 
You are confident before the tests begin that you will 
win by a generous margin over people who see and 
hear. But the instruments, like your playfellows of 
long ago, tell the truth — your sensory capacities are 
just like everybody else's. There is nothing extraor- 
dinary about you except your handicap. Ruefully 
you try to save your face by explaining to your in- 
quisitors that your impressions of the world do not 
come through the senses alone, but through the 
magical medium of imagination and association of 
ideas which enter your mind as detached, chaotic 
physical experience, and are synchronized into har- 
monious entity which is your conception of the 

The kind of instrument I want to see invented is 
one which will show what takes place in the mind 

when we think. Although my account of experiments 
I have undergone from time to time is somewhat 
flippant, yet I regard them as of great importance, 
and I am glad I have had ever so small a share in 
researches which are pregnant of results. I believe 
that the nature of sensory experience and the con- 
cepts derived from them and the process of uniting 
these mental ideas with the external world will 
ultimately be determined with considerable, if not 
complete, accuracy. If it shall turn out that Dr. 
Tilney's experiments with me add a jot to the sum 
of the world's knowledge on this important subject, 
I shall be abundantly repaid for the time and slight 
physical discomfort I have contributed. Even if 
there were no increase of knowledge, I should still 
be the gainer, since the experiments have given me 
opportunity to know Dr. Tilney. 

I have tried to show in this book that it is possible 
to make delightful days out of one's own impressions 
and adventures though debarred from the audible, 
visible life of the world. My life is ^'a chronicle of 
friendship." My friends— all those about me— create 
my world anew each day. Without their loving care 
all the courage I could summon would not suffice to 
keep my heart strong for life. But, like Stevenson, I 
know it is better to do things than to imagine them. 

No one knows— no one can know— the bitter 
denials of limitation better than I do. I am not 


deceived about my situation. It is not true that I 
am never sad or rebellious ; but long ago I determined 
not to complain. The mortally wounded must strive 
to live out their days cheerfully for the sake of others. 
That is what religion is for — to keep the hearts brave 
to fight it out to the end with a smiling face. This 
may not be a very lofty ambition, but it is a far cry 
from surrendering to fate. But to get the better of 
fate even to this extent one must have work and the 
solace of friendship and an unwavering faith in God's 
Plan of Good. 

As I look back over my life, I have the satisfaction 
of knowing that I have ''done my little owl." In a 
letter to a friend Edward Fitzgerald wrote, "My 
grandfather had several parrots of different sorts 
and talents: one of them, Billy I think, could only 
huff up his feathers in what my grandfather called 
an owl fashion; so when company were praising the 
more gifted parrots, he would say, 'you will hurt poor 
Billy's feelings — come, do your little owl, my dear.' 
And so I do my little owl," he concluded, referring 
to Tales of the Hall, which he had just completed. 
That is how I view my life — I have done my little 

Chapter XVII 

I HAVE to smile when people lament the few con- 
tacts I have with life, remembering the prodigality 
of interests that is mine through my friends, my 
books, through magazines, through travel, through 
letters. I have become consciously proud of my rich 
possessions because my friends are so prone to pity 

Whatever is not in braille I depend upon others to 
read to me. Miss Thomson spells out the headlines in 
the newspaper at breakfast, between bites, and I 
choose what I want to hear. Magazines are read to 
me in the same way, either by Miss Thomson or 
Mrs. Macy or a friend who happens to be present 
who is familiar with the manual alphabet. In this 
way I have enjoyed the American Mercury, the 
Atlantic Monthly, World's Work, Harper s, and 
Punch and many others. 

My teacher reads me a large part of the 
Nation each week. Its editor, Mr. Oswald Garri- 
son Villard, is a man for whom I have the 
warmest admiration. He is one of the last editors in 

America whose name is as well known as that of his 



paper. He gives out light as well as heat. He is never 
tongue-tied by authority, nor does he gild the in- 
justices of society to placate anyone. He never departs 
from the realities of love, faith, and personal liberty. 
I like to think what a high standard American jour- 
nalism would have if there were more editors like 
Mr. Villard. 

Articles in all these magazines are constantly being 
reprinted in our braille magazines, which I some- 
times think are superior to the magazines for the 
seeing. The editors of the ink-print magazines are 
most generous in giving permission for the use of 
their material. Not once has it been refused, and 
since our editors are able to choose the best, our 
magazines are freer from trivialities. But they are, 
of course, subject to the same limitations as those of 
the seeing. They are limited by the capacity of the 

Besides my braille magazines I have many friends 
who write to me in braille and other friends who 
have their letters copied for me. I especially enjoy 
reading letters with my fingers. They seem more my 
own than when people spell them to me. When I 
was a member, the Massachusetts Commission for the 
Blind used to have all its reports embossed for me, and 
the American Foundation for the Blind has its bulle- 
tins, special letters, and communications transcribed 


One of my friends, Edna Porter, took a braille 
tablet on a cruise around the world so as to send me 
iivord pictures of places and people she thought would 
interest me. Using a braille tablet, for one who is not 
accustomed to it, is a laborious process, and exasper- 
atingly slow. Every letter must be pricked out with 
a stiletto — not an occupation for a tourist, one would 

Most of her missives came in the form of postcards, 
on which she punched snatches of song, stories, witty 
descriptions of funny situations she encountered. 
Thus I have been able to share her adventures. 

I shiver with her when she hears the crunching of 
icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean. I stand with her in 
Kensington Gardens. I fly with her across the Chan- 
nel, "a tiny black dot high, high in the blue sky." 

I walk through Paris. I stand before the statue 
called ^'Blind" in front of the Luxembourg. I bow 
my head in Notre Dame at a special mass for the 
Unknown Soldier. 

I visit Sarah Bernhardt's granite monument on 
the isle of her whaler ancestors. I skip through Ger- 
many. I dawdle through Venice "with a full moon 
and the gondolier singing, and the houses gliding 

I stand in the Coliseum. I stand before Vesuvius. 
I journey eastward. 
At last I reach the Ganges and listen to the weird 


notes, *'0m, om, om," of the song of hallowed waters. 
I visit the Taj Mahal. I am off to China where I 
watch the Mandarins riding past. I reach Japan in 
time for the Cherry Blossom Dance! ''How the petals 
fall like cascades of snow, while the temple bell rings 
sweet and low, and people go to the shrines to pray. 
Oh, look! there go women with babies on their backs 
and men in kimonos down the street klop-klop-klop, 
in wooden shoes with heels four inches high." 

Whether she is writing or talking Edna seems 
always to be saying, "Fm glad I love the human 
race. I'm glad I like the silly way it talks, and I'm 
glad I think it's jolly good fun." 

The friend who does more than any other to keep 
me in touch with the world of science is Edward L. 
Holmes. I have known him since I was at the Oilman 
School for Young Ladies in Cambridge and he was 
a student of architecture at the Massachusetts Insti- 
tute of Technology. He was the first Californian I 
had met, and it seemed to me that he was talking to 
me over the Oolden Oate. Afterwards I visited in his 
home in California and had many delightful trips 
with him around San Francisco. Now he lives in 
New York and I see him very often. 

Ships and lighthouses have always had an irre- 
sistible lure for him. For more than twenty years he 
has had in mind a master mariner's compass elec- 
trically harnessed to operate automatic navigation 


apparatus, and for ten years he has worked unceas- 
ingly in developing it. 

The brotherhood of the sea tell us that no man 
may touch the magnetic compass aboard ship, yet 
throughout the ages men have v^anted to do this 
because it is in man's nature to strive to do that v^hich 
other men say he shall not do. The navigators de- 
clared that anyone who meddled with the magnetic 
compass would destroy the governing spirit of the 
ship, for it is the divine shepherd of ships — the hand 
that drives them in ocean channels and brings them 
safe to the harbour. Mr. Holmes thought otherwise. 
Long years he studied the duties and idiosycrasies of 
compasses and decided that the magnetic compass 
could be induced to look at an electric current with- 
out losing its head. The brotherhood of the sea looked 
at my friend with supercilious disdain. Some of them 
said, "Other fools have thought they knew more than 
their creator." My friend looked at the compass and 
the compass looked back at him, each gauging the 
other's capacity for overcoming and resisting. He 
has told me many times how he learned the secret of 
getting the magnetic compass to act naturally in the 
presence of an electrically charged wire. Patiently 
he talked down to my level until he became convinced 
that I really wanted to know about his compass. 
Then we talked as men together, each too interested 

■ ^ 


to think about anything except the subject in hand, 
and that subject was compasses — the Kelvin compass, 
the Ritchie compass, the gyro compass, and his mas- 
ter magnetic compass. In connection with his compass 
Mr. Holmes has developed an instrument which he 
calls a path and position indicator. It is an uncanny 
contrivance to keep a check upon the usual method 
of ascertaining a ship's position in relation to its 
course. It possesses the attributes of a super-watch- 
dog. It gives instant warning to the man on the bridge 
if the ship strays the least bit from the set course and 
enables him to bring the vessel back to that course. 
Tirelessly it watches every movement of the great 
ship. This clever instrument, in addition to saving 
time and fuel, does away with all guessing on the 
part of the helmsman and increases the safety of 
navigation as well. 

In these days when the names and sayings and 
doings of millionaires, titled foreigners, and crimi- 
nals are dinned into the public ear, a man of real 
achievement like Mr. Holmes is likely to be passed 
over by the ministers of publicity. It is reassuring, 
however, to know that Mr. Holmes, the inventor of 
the Holmes Master Compass and Position Indicator, 
is safe in the impregnable stronghold of time. 

With such friends as Edna and Mr. Holmes I have 
no sense at all of limitations, but when I am with a 
group, especially if strangers are among them, I very 

much miss not being able to join in their conversa- 

During the gaps when I am left alone I amuse 
myself by observing the callers. There is nothing 
about me to put them on their guard, and I find I 
can, or imagine I can, substitute myself for the visi- 
tor. If he is dull I know it by the parts of his con- 
versation that are repeated to me. If he is fidgety I 
can tell by the behaviour of his feet and hands and 
by the small vibrations that come to me when he 
laughs to cover his embarrassment. 

I know when callers are pleasant by a sort of 
spiritual freemasonry. If a woman is sitting beside 
me, and I read her lips, I at once notice the friendli- 
ness or the animation of her face and the little name- 
less motions of head and hand that give colour and 
emphasis to her words, and I observe her mood, gay 
or grave. If she is seated at a distance from me, Mrs. 
Macy or Miss Thomson interprets for me, and the 
alertness of their spelling, (and they do not al- 
ways spell what people think they do) enables 
me to form an impression of my caller. If she 
smiles, I am told ; if she speaks of something with 
much feeling, a quick pressure on my hand prepares 
me to fall in with her mood. Usually, however, after 
her first or second call she talks to me herself. 

My life has been rich in friends. I can hardly 
mention anything I have done without bringing in 


the name of one. A friend who all through my life 
has held out a helping hand to me whenever I came 
to a special difficulty is Mrs. William Thaw. She 
was overburdened with claims on her benevolence, 
yet she never failed to contribute generously to every 
movement in which I took part — the saving of human 
eyes, the raising of funds for the European soldiers 
blinded in the World War, and the work of the 
American Foundation for the Blind. Even when she 
learned I had become a Socialist, she did not with- 
draw her friendship and financial help. She 
used to plead with me not to let fanatics 
preach their crazy theories through me; but 
the temper of her mind was such that while 
she abhorred my radicalism she cherished me. It was 
at Mrs. Thaw's that Dr. John Brashear used to tell 
me of his work — how the great telescopes were made. 
He showed me how they were polished with the palm 
of the hand, and showed me his hands scored with 
many arduous endeavours! He would talk of his 
goings and comings among the observatories where 
his glasses were, and the stars he had seen through 
the lenses he fashioned. "In my thoughts there are 
obscurities," he would say, "but the lenses I have 
wrought are as transparent as light." 

Mr. Frank Doubleday, or Effendi, as he lets me 
call him, has been a friend of mine since my college 
days. Twenty-five years ago, when the House of 


Doubleday was just starting out, he published The 
Story of My Life. It is pleasant to realize that he 
has continued his interest in my literary work all 
these years. More than anyone else he is responsible 
for this book. For more than a decade he has urged 
me to bring the story of my life up to date, and I am 
vividly conscious of his kind hand and friendly 
encouragement as I write. 

John Morley says in his Recollections that "the 
great publisher is a sort of Minister of Letters, and 
is not to be without the qualities of a statesman.'' 
These qualities I think Effendi has. A publisher's 
life is colourful of the past, rich in memories of 
noted people who were his friends. Effendi's life, in 
retrospect, must look good to him, full of hard work 
iand fine achievement, of success and friends, of public 
honour and affection and happiness. 

Effendi's brother, Mr. Russell Doubleday, is an- 
other whose name it is delightful to associate with 
the writing of this book. With what charming kind- 
nesses he has put fresh zest into my tasks when I 
called loud and long for my thoughts, and they 
would not come! On one occasion when I had waited 
long for an idea he invited me to visit the beautiful 
gardens which surround the plant in Garden City 
where this book is to be printed. After I had wan- 
dered a while among the roses and evergreens my 
thoughts came bounding to me like a dog at call. 


Greatly refreshed, I returned home and finished a 
chapter that evening. 

For twenty years I have missed the warm handclasp 
of my Pflegevater, Mr. Hitz. His football is death- 
muted, but other Swedenborgian friends walk with 
me, Mr. Paul Sperry, Mr. Clarence Lathbury, Mr. 
C. W. Barron, and Mr. George Warren of Boston. 
There are radiant moments when I feel the beams of 
spiritual kinship that occasionally shine upon the 
yearning soul. I had this experience last May when 
I spoke at the convention of the New Jerusalem 
Church in Washington. I shall always be deeply 
moved when I recall how beautifully they welcomed 
me— the fragrant flowers they showered upon me, 
the lovely music that floated around me while the 
hymn was played, ^'O Love That Will Not Let Me 
Go," and the affection with which the people sur- 
rounded me, like one family. 

I have already spoken of Mr. and Mrs. Charles 
White. It was through them that I met Max Hein- 

Mr. White had often spoken of him. "Max is a 
romantic figure," he would say. ''He has been one of 
the greatest favourites of his time in the musical 
world. He is old now, but interesting still. If he likes 
you, his charm is irresistible." 

"Do you think he will like us?" I ventured. "Max's 
likes are not predictable," Mr. White answered ; "but 


send him an invitation to come out with me, and see 
what happens." 

Max came, and liked us so well he spent several 
days at our house, and came afterwards many times. 
Frequently I lunched or dined with him in New 
York at Luchow's. 

I fell immediately under his spell. He was an old 
man, but I felt as if he were a princely youth, so 
chivalrous was his homage. He has been dead for 
years, and in the interim my life has been crowded 
with friendships, but I have not forgotten his im- 
perious, intense, lovable, whimsical personality. 

Like a great book he created a new world wherever 
he went. Max was not a happy man, yet he had known 
all the happiness mortals can experience. His unrest, 
charm, and wilfulness were temperamental, and the 
source of his joy and his misery. More than most 
men, he seized for himself the privilege of doing as 
he liked, and others less audacious got out of the way 
of his magnificent impudence. 

He had been a dazzling success on the concert 
stage but sang very little when I knew him, being 
sensitive, and realizing that his voice was no longer 
what it had been. But sometimes he would take me 
into the sitting room and sing for me some of the 
songs that had made him famous. He would half sing 
and half recite "Enoch Arden" to a beautiful ac- 
companiment, while I kept one hand on the piano, 


and the fingers of my other hand on his lips. He used 
to say cynically, ''I still have my triumphs, Charlie. 
The blind and deaf find me magnificent." Every 
time he went away, I felt the disappointment of a 
child who finishes a book and cries for something 
more to follow. 

It was a cold day in February, 1912, that Georgette 
Le Blanc (Mme. Maeterlinck) came out to Wrent- 
ham to bring me, she said, greetings from Maurice 
Maeterlinck. She was singing 'Telleas and Meli- 
sande" in the Boston opera that winter. She was 
animated and confiding, and to my touch beautiful. 
Her gayety of heart and her lively interest in many 
subjects carried us over the difficulties of communi- 
cating in French. After she returned to France she 
sent me a card on which Maeterlinck had written 
^'My greetings and love to the girl who has found 
the Bluebird." 

I met Signora Montessori on two occasions while 
she was lecturing in America. The first time was in 
Boston, the second in San Francisco during the Pan- 
American Exposition when a great meeting was held 
to celebrate educational achievement. Signora 
Montessori and Mrs. Macy and many others spoke, 
and Signora Montessori paid my teacher a beautiful 
tribute, the memory of which thrills me with 

In conversation Signora Montessori talked with 


charming vivacity in Italian and a lovely young lady 
interpreted what she said. She was interested to learn 
that her system and Mrs. Macy's were much alike. 
She spoke of the attitude of the Church in Italy to- 
wards education and freedom of thought, and the 
blighting effects of poverty upon childhood. She de- 
clared that school life should be an adventure, the 
child spirit must be free. ''I would not bind it even 
to the feet of God." 

Another worker among the children of the poor 
whom I like to recall is Miss Margaret Macmillan 
of London. She told me that my teacher's method had 
been a wellspring of beneficence to thousands of un- 
fortunate children in England. She herself had made 
use of it among the children in her care. 

It is many years now since Judge Lindsey first 
greeted me in Denver. He had just come from a 
meeting where he had advocated a mother's pension 
law. He was very much excited and poured out his 
indignation at the stupid indifference of society. 
^'Here we are, huddling children into homes and 
nurseries and paying strangers to look after them, 
while the mothers take care of other people's chil- 
dren and homes. Wouldn't you think any intelligent 
citizen would see that it would be more sensible to 
pay the mothers for taking care of their own 

He said he knew he had a hard fight ahead, but I 

doubt if Judge Lindsey himself knew just how hard 
it was going to be. People said he was crazy when he 
took the part of bad boys against the police and said 
that they should have a court of their own. But he 
established such a court, and people came from all 
over the world to see how it was managed. Public 
playgrounds and public baths came as a result of his 
dreams. Old laws were changed and better ones made, 
as he recommended, and these things are only a small 
part of what he has done for the good of his 

I cannot help wishing that so many of my friend- 
ships did not have to be conducted by correspondence. 
I have letters that I treasure from John Burroughs, 
William Dean Howells, Dr. Richard Cabot, Carl 
Sandburg, and others. The only personal contact I 
had with Eugene Debs was through letters. I heard 
of him first in connection with the Great Northern 
Strike in 1894, but it was not until I was a woman 
of thirty that I began to understand the significance 
of the liberating movement for which he stood. 

He needs no defence among those who know his 
v^ork, but there are many who have not yet learned to 
appreciate him justly. He was a working man, but he 
succeeded in making himself master of the culture 
of the dominant class. Gentle, modest, refined, a 
lover of books and of beauty, he chose to be the 
champion of the despised cause of the poor. He at- 


tacked the rule of the strong and the system of private 
property, and always he was in earnest, terribly in 
earnest. He never doubted the righteousness of his 
mission, or that his cause would win in the end, as 
surely as the sun lights the sky. He summed up the 
whole philosophy of life in these words, which are 
inscribed on my heart: 

Your Honour, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living 
beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better 
than the meanest of the earth. I said then, and I say now, that 
while there is a lower class, I am in it ; while there is a criminal 
element, I am of it ; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. 

Most of my contact with La Follette was with 
letters to him or his family. I met him — I think it 
was in the spring of 1905— when my mother and I 
were in Washington, and Mr. Hitz was showing us 
the Capitol. He saw the Senator coming out of one 
of the committee rooms, his hands full of papers. 
Mr. Hitz knew him only by sight, but, thinking it 
would be pleasant for my mother and me to meet 
him, spoke to him and introduced me. Mr. La Fol- 
lette greeted us in gentle perplexity, wondering who 
we were. When, however, Mr. Hitz repeated my 
name, he responded, "Yes, yes, I know," and shook 
my hand again saying, "When people meet you, I 
am sure they always shake hands twice." 


When he had said good-bye, Mr. Hitz remarked, 
"That's a fighter. They say here in Washington that 
if there were two ways of getting a man to cross the 
street, one to invite him over and the other to take 
him by the collar, La Follette would take him by 
the collar." 

When I came to know Senator La Follette better, 
I regarded him as Woodrow Wilson did, "a lonely 
figure climbing the mountain of privileges," stead- 
fastly serving the interests of the American people. 
Yet in another sense he was not lonely. Never did a 
man have a more devoted family. His wife fought 
side by side with him in his political battles. His son, 
who is now in the Senate, told me recently that from 
their earliest years he and his sisters were permitted 
to be present at the family councils. As they grew up 
they joined their father's forces and upheld his noble 

Shortly after I began campaigning for the Ameri- 
can Foundation for the Blind I received a contribu- 
tion for the work inclosed in a delightful letter signed 
Jedediah Tingle. I did not know until last year that 
Jedediah Tingle was Mr. William Harmon. In the 
second letter, which was signed with his own name, 
he wrote that he would open to the blind a series of 
awards for creative achievements in the various fields 
of education, craftsmanship, art, public endeavour 
and industrial relationships. "I want to do this," he 


said, "for those who are handicapped so that they 
may know the ambition and joy which come, not only 
from achievement itself, but also for the occupational 
effort to achieve." Out of his generosity and sympathy 
Mr. Harmon radiated the beneficence that really 
helps because those whom it assists are enabled to 
help themselves. 

Many people whose visits it is delightful to re- 
member have called upon us here in Forest Hills. 
Sir Richard Paget, who sees in the science of 
phonetics a way of improving speech; Mr. Akiba, 
who is head of the School for the Blind in Tokio; 
Miss Betty Hirsch of Berlin, a sightless worker in 
the rehabilitation of blinded German soldiers; Dr. 
James Kerr Love, a distinguished aural surgeon of 
Glasgow, greatly interested in the education of deaf 
children; Countee Cullen, the negro poet, whose 
poems Edna Porter has copied in braille for me. 

A comrade in the dark who lives far away now 
but used to visit me often is Elizabeth Garrett. When 
books began to appear about the thrilling adventures 
of Elizabeth's father, Pat Garrett, the famous sheriff 
of New Mexico, and the hairbreadth escapes of 
"Billy the Kid," I felt as one might if somebody took 
liberties with his family. For Elizabeth has told me 
so much about her father and "the kid" that they 
seemed to belong to me somehow. 

Elizabeth has been blind since she was born, but 

she has her father's free spirit. Even as a child she 
was perfectly fearless. She rode horses bareback 
without anyone to accompany her, and gave her 
family many anxious moments, especially when she 
took it into her wilful head to ride wild horses. One 
day she swung herself to the back of an unbroken 
pony which belonged to one of her father's young 
deputy sheriffs. The pony flew down the road. No 
one could stop him. Miles and miles he ran until 
he was worn out. When he slowed down Elizabeth 
slipped off and sat calmly down by the roadside and 
waited for her father. With the same unconquered 
spirit she is still seeking adventures in the dark. 
No danger or hardship can hold her back. She 
is one of the few blind people who travels about the 
country alone. When she goes to a city where she is 
likely to have difficulty, she writes to the station mas- 
ter telling on what train she will arrive, and asking 
him please to have a porter meet her. Not once has 
the porter failed to be on hand. 

Elizabeth has a lovely voice and a talent for com- 
posing her own songs. She has written the state song 
of New Mexico, which is my favourite among her 
compositions. It breathes of the wild flowers she has 
gathered, the mountains she has climbed, and the un- 
confined frolic of the winds upon the mesas of her 
romantic homeland. She used often to spend the 
week-end with us while she was studying singing in 

New York, and there was no happier hour than when 
we gathered about her in the twilight. She always 
asked me to stand beside her with my hand on her 
throat. ''I can't bear to have you left out, dear," she 
would spell, "and I feel I can sing better if you 
'hear' me." Sometimes we accompanied her when 
she gave recitals in towns around New York, and she 
always insisted that I listen to her just as I did at 

She is ever ready to go wherever she might bring 
cheer to the sick, the sorrowful, and the lonely. One 
day she visited Sing Sing prison and sang for the 
men. Not long afterwards I was deeply touched to 
read in the Ziegler Magazine for the Blind a poem 
which one of the prisoners addressed to her. I will 
quote the first verse : 

Fools, they! They call her blind! 

They call her blind, yet can she lead 

A thousand soul-sick men 

From cold gray stones and make them heed 

The song of wind and rain. 

From gloomy cell to dewy mead, 

To sun and stars and sky, 

And show the message all can read 

Of love and peace and hope. 

I met Elizabeth through another blind friend, 
Nina Rhoades, whose father, John Harsen Rhoades, 

used to try to teach me a little practical sense in my 
young days. I was not a very apt pupil ; but he was 
always patient with me. 

I very often visited the Rhoadeses at their home in 
New York and their country house at Seabright, 
Tsf. J. Miss R. knew the manual alphabet, and we 
had many long talks about books and people we 
knew, or would like to know. She had many delight- 
ful books which her friends copied for her in N. Y. 
Point that could not be obtained from any library. 
With what delight I read Goethe's Iphigenia, Daniel 
Deronda, Nathan the Wise and The Casting Away 
of Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. Aleshine. Nina Rhoades her- 
self is a writer of charming stories for girls. She used 
to write them out in Point, and sometimes I had the 
pleasure of reading them before they were published. 

She has a captivating personality, and I loved the 
way we used to laugh and argue the summer hours 
away on the upper piazza of her Seabright home. 
Every now and then our discussions were interrupted 
by great breakers which leapt the bulkhead and flung 
wreaths of white spray in our faces. 

It was through her also that I met Sir Arthur 
Pearson, founder of St. Dunstan's Hostel for the 
blinded soldiers in London. 

When Rabindranath Tagore visited America, he 
came out to see me, accompanied by a number of 
friends and admirers. He was tall and stately. His 


long gray hair and beard mingling together gave 
him the appearance of an ancient prophet. Serene, 
gracious, he saluted me in a monotone, almost like a 
prayer. I told him I was pleased to meet him because 
I had read his poems, and I knew that he loved 
humanity. shall have cause for rejoicing," he 
said gently, ''if my writings reflect my love of 
man. . . . The world is waiting for men who love 
God and their fellow creatures and not them- 

After the Stately One had seated himself in the 
centre of a circle of friendly and reverent listeners, 
he talked of poetry, of India and China and the 
power of the spirit that alone can bring freedom. He 
spoke sadly of the war clouds hovering over the 
world. "The West is trying to thrust opium down the 
throat of China, and non-compliance by the Chinese 
means taking possession of their country, and Asia 
doth prepare weapons in her armouries, and her tar- 
get is to be the heart of Europe, and nests are being 
built on the shores of the Pacific for the vulture- 
ships of England. Japan, the farthest East, is already 
awake. China will rouse herself when the robbers 
break through her walls. ... Yet love of self can 
have no other destination than self-destruction. Love 
of God is our only fulfilment. It has in it the ulti- 
mate solution of all problems and all difficulties." 

I could not help thinking of Gandhi, who not only 

hears this message of love, but also teaches it and 
lets it shine in his deeds before all men. 

It was not until we came to Forest Hills to live 
that I made the acquaintance of Art Young, though 
for years Mr. Macy had described his cartoons to me 
as they appeared in Life, in The Liberator, The 
Nation, and The Masses, 

One day when we were returning from a camp- 
ing trip in New England, we passed through Bethel, 
Connecticut. Edna remarked, ^'Art Young lives near 
here." We easily found his quaint little house on the 
side of the road, with a giant pine tree in front of it, 
and morning glories running wild everywhere; and 
we found Art Young in the living room, drawing pic- 
tures of ''trees at night" for the Saturday Evening 
Post. I told him that Mrs. Macy also saw things in 
trees at twilight— animals and human beings. After 
supper we sat on the doorsteps in the semi-darkness 
and they searched the trees for the goblins and dry- 
ads that inhabit them. 

It was my privilege not long ago to have a call 
from Dr. Watson, Dr. Bell's assistant in the in- 
vention of the telephone. The nobility of his char- 
acter reveals itself in every movement. I believe there 
is a parallel between a man's accomplishment and his 
character. His work is a visible sign of his spirit. 
Some such thoughts passed through my brain as I 
talked with Dr. Watson. There was the consciousness 

of a self unified as in a work of art. There was 
the strong, skilful hand that had subdued the electric 
current and won a victory over matter ; and there he 
sat, modest, gentle, radiating kindly interest and 
heightening the effect by reciting Browning's noble 
words : 

He placed thee amid this plastic dance of circumstance 

Thou wouldst forsooth deem arrested — 

This machinery but meant 

To give thy soul its bent 

And turn thee out sufficiently impressed. 

Every Sunday since I have been in Forest Hills a 
number of. little neighbours run in after Sunday 
school. They bound into my study like a burst of 
sunshine. One of them kicks the big stone which 
keeps my door from slamming; another spoils the 
letter I am writing by pushing down the keys of the 
typewriter at random; they scatter my braille notes 
all over the floor. They open my file and rummage 
among the papers. They are mischief incarnate, but I 
adore them. Their teasing, their laughter, and their 
sprawling affection keep me young for the spring- 
time of Heaven. 

Many artists whose appeal is directed to the eye or 
ear have tried to project their art beyond the dark 
curtain of sense for my entertainment. When I was a 
young girl Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving, and 

Photo, by Nicholas Muray, N. Y. 

Miss Keller ''listening' to the violin of Edwin Grasse. 


Joseph Jefferson assumed for me characters which 
they had made famous and I followed with breath- 
less interest their gestures and changes of expression. 
My fingers have traced the mobile lines of David 
Warfield's face and felt the youth and charm of 
Jane Cowl's Juliet. With my fingers on his lips, 
Caruso poured his golden voice into my hand. Cha- 
liapin shouted the Russian folk song with his strong 
arm encircling me so that I could feel every 
vibration. I knew his tone of defiance, the great 
peasant laugh, and the passion of the multitude. He 
also sang the Volga Boat Song, and I sensed its sad, 
haunting notes, the resignation and sustained effort 
of strong men who believe we must pull together. 

I was present in Detroit at one of Gabrilowitsch's 
concerts. I sat so close to the orchestra and the vibra- 
tions carried so wonderfully in that resonant audi- 
torium that I seemed to swim on a flood of harmony. 

Two blind men who have played for me, they tell 
me, are gifted violinists, Abraham Haitovitch and 
Edwin Grasse. Mr. Grasse accompanied me in the 
campaign for the American Foundation for the 
Blind, and audiences everywhere received him with 
glorious enthusiasm. Recently the Brooklyn Institute 
of Arts and Sciences chose Mr. Grasse as its organist, 
guaranteeing him good remuneration, and in October 
he will begin giving three recitals a week. 

When we were in Denver during one of my 


vaudeville tours Heifetz played for me. My fingers 
rested lightly on his violin. At first the bow moved 
softly over the strings, as if the master were ques- 
tioning the Spirit of Music what he should play for 
one who could not hear. The bow fluttered. From the 
sensitive instrument there came a tremulous, far- 
away murmur. Was it the faint rumour of the wings 
of birds? Each delicate note alighted on my finger- 
tips like thistledown. They touched my face, my 
hair, like kisses remembered and love-lit smiles. Im- 
material, transient as the sigh of evening winds, the 
violet breath of dawn. Are they rose petals dropped 
from a fairy's hand, or wordless desires born in the 

There is a change of mood. The bow is lifted to the 
point of radiant flight. The melody rises like Shel- 
ley's skylark climbing the air with voice and wing 
challenging immensity. One is sad without knowing 
why. The song is joyous, and yet nowhere is there a 
loneliness so great as the little bird in that vast dome 
of light, for the moment the only actuality in the 
universe, yet so slight a thing, a glimmering echo of 
thought, a passionate prayer, a dauntless faith in 
things unseen. 

I think it was Schumann's ''Song of Moonlight" 
that Heifetz played. 

Godowsky, too, has played for me. With my hands 
on the piano while he played one of Chopin's 


Nocturnes, I was transported on a magic carpet to a 
tropical island in one of Conrad's mysterious seas. 

Sometimes I have listened to concerts over the 
radio, placing my fingers lightly on a resonant 
board. Lovely to my touch is the music of 
different instruments — the harp, the cornet, the 
oboe, the deep-voiced viola, the violin in all its 
singing moods and the triumphing, blending har- 
mony of all in a chorus of sweet vibrations! Always 
one voice seems to leap from the deep surge and 
fling its notes like flower petals blown by the wind. 

The fiire music in 'The Valkyrie" spreads exultant 
flames through the orchestra, now curling upward 
swift and shrill, now clamouring against the sky 
and now rolling back to earth Brunhilde's bitter 

Jazz has a bombarding sensation not pleasant to 
the touch, and it is disturbing to the emotions. When 
it is continued for some time, I have a wild impulse 
to flee from something sinister that is about to spring 
upon me. I suppose it wakens primal emotions — 
quenchless fears of things wild-eyed and savage . . . 
shadow memories . . . gigantic creatures . . . 
sons and daughters of the jungle ... the cry of 
dumb souls not yet able to speak. 

I have several times been presented at the Ameri- 
can Court of Industry. I have talked with men who 



have more power than almost any monarch of his- 
tory. Some of these men have been my friends, others 
I have only met in passing. One of the first of my 
friends among the Kings of Industry was Mr. John 
Spaulding, about whom I have already written. An- 
other who came early into my life was Mr. H. H. 
Rogers, who made it possible for me to go to Rad- 
clifife College. I first met him one afternoon at Mrs. 
Lawrence Hutton's when he called with Mark 
Twain. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Rogers invited Miss 
Sullivan and me to dinner at their beautiful home in 
New York. We saw both Mr. and Mrs. Rogers 
frequently up to the time of their death. Whenever 
we passed through New York we saw them, they 
both called upon us when I was in college, and Mr. 
Rogers came to see us at Wrentham. 

One of the most delightful visits we ever 
had with him was after my teacher's marriage, 
when he invited the three of us to Fairhaven, 
where he was spending the summer with his 
daughter, Mrs. Coe, and his grandchildren. We 
took a glorious sail on his beautiful yacht, the 
Kanawaha, and I loved the steady, swift motion and 
the flying spray. Most interestingly, Mr. Rogers de- 
scribed the coast and islands we passed. He was so 
pleased that Mrs. Macy could see more distinctly 
through his field-glasses that he presented them to 
her. A delicious luncheon was served on board, after 

which Mr. Rogers insisted that we must take a nap ; 
but bless his heart! we could not sleep when there 
was so much to see. We had never been on a private 
yacht before. I had to pinch myself every little while 
to see if I was awake or dreaming. Just as the sun 
went down the Kanawaha floated up to her pier like 
a huge white swan. Mr. Rogers's automobile Was 
waiting for us. There were to be other guests at din- 
ner, and it was a scramble to get dressed in time. 

After dinner we sat round the fire and chatted. 
Mr. Rogers talked naturally and simply on whatever 
subject came up. At that time Mr. Lawson was at- 
tacking him in Everybody's Magazine. Mr. Rogers 
denied that the reported conversations between him- 
self and Mr. Lawson had any foundation in fact. We 
talked of Mark Twain, and Mr. Rogers chuckled 
over some of his drolleries. We also spoke of Mrs. 
Rogers, who was at Dublin, New Hampshire, at the 
time. Mr. Rogers said she had one fault, she was 
always giving his old clothes away, so that when he 
wanted to go fishing he had nothing suitable to wear. 
Frequently Mr. Rogers and I did not agree on sub- 
jects of public interest, but I always liked to talk 
with him. He was always noble in bearing and win- 
ning in manner. Mark Twain said that he was "the 
best-bred gentleman I have met on either side of the 
ocean in any rank of life from the Kaiser of Ger- 
many down to the bootblack." 


Next to Mr. Spaulding and Mr. Rogers, Mr. 
Carnegie did most to uphold my hands in what I 
wanted to do. It was the year that I met Mr. Car- 
negie that I met another royal personage in the king- 
dom of industry — Mr. Thomas A. Edison. He asked 
me to visit him when I was lecturing in East Orange, 
New Jersey. 

He seemed to me a man of many idiosyncrasies 
and moods. Mrs. Edison told me that he often stayed 
all night in his laboratory. When he became inter- 
ested in a problem nothing else existed for him and 
he was annoyed when someone interrupted him to 
tell him it was dinner time. 

He asked me very particularly what I could feel 
when I placed my hands on a victrola. When I told 
him that I could not make out words he tried to 
focus the sounds under a high silk hat. Vibrations 
were stronger under the hat, but the sounds were not 

He told me he thought deafness was an advantage 
to him. "It is like a high wall around me which ex- 
cludes distractions and leaves me free to live at peace 
in my own world." 

I said, "If I were a great inventor like you, Mr. 
Edison, I would invent an instrument that would 
enable every deaf person to hear." 

"You would, would you?" he retorted. "Well, I 


think it would be a waste of time. People say so little 
that is worth listening to." 

I tried to make him understand me by putting my 
mouth close to his ear. He said my voice was very 
unpleasant— like steam exploding, and that he got 
only the consonants. ^'Get Mrs. Macy to tell me what 
you have to say," he commanded, ^'her voice is like 

"The trouble with people is," he remarked, "they 
are all alike. I doubt if their parents could tell them 
apart when they grow up." 

"They are not alike to me," I said. "Everyone 
has a particular person-odour different from every- 
body else's." 

"That may be," he said, "I never noticed it." 

It was on a lecture tour also that I first met Mr. 
Ford. We stopped for a few days in Detroit on our 
way home from Nebraska, where I had been speak- 
ing against preparedness. I expressed a wish to visit 
the Ford motor plant, and if possible to meet the 
great organizer of that industry. Accordingly, we 
went to the plant in the afternoon. We had to wait 
some time before Mr. Ford could see us, but when 
he did appear, the pleasure I had in making his 
acquaintance was worth waiting for. His handshake 
was quiet and full of what I call reserve energy. Mr. 
Ford showed us over the plant, and I shall never 


forget the alertness of his hands that seemed eyes 
as he guided my awkward fingers through the in- 
tricacies of the huge dynamo which runs the plant. 

He talked with pleasant simplicity about his suc- 
cess. He told how he had conceived the idea of a car 
that the farmers could afford to buy, and then found 
out how to make it. "The trouble with many people 
who have ideas," he said, "is that they don't know 
what to do with them. It is all well to have ideas ; but 
what are they worth if one doesn't know how to go 
about embodying them in actual service?" 

A visit to the Ford plant gives one much to medi- 
tate upon. I have tried to imagine what the world 
would be like if it were all run like the Ford plant, 
with Mr. Ford as world dictator. Many things would 
be better. There would be a shorter working day and 
higher wages. Mankind would have leisure un- 
dreamed of now. Men would spend a part of the day 
providing food, clothes, and shelter, and insurance 
against old age, and still have four or five hours to 
devote to their families, to education, or to recreation. 
It would give the workers the economic freedom 
which is the starting point of all other freedom. 

At first flush the Ford idea looks wonderful. It 
seems as if this "hard-headed" business man had 
found the high road to Utopia. But memory flashes a 
picture on the mind of the thousands of men at the 
Ford plant working in perfect unison, like a mar- 


vellous mechanism, each man a tiny cog or screw or 
shaft in the machine, and one wonders if, when the 
machine is dismembered, the human parts will be 
capable of enjoying the blessings of Utopia, or will 
their brains have become so mummified that they 
will prefer to remain parts of the machine? 

The year after this visit to Detroit Mr. Ford in- 
vited me to be his guest on the Oscar. I declined, 
because if I went, I should be obliged to cancel a 
number of lecture engagements, and I felt that the 
service I might render on such an expedition would 
not justify me in disappointing my audiences. It 
seemed to me Mr. Ford's significance lay in what 
he had accomplished in the field of industry rather 
than in international diplomacy. I felt that, had he 
brought the same engineer-mind to the affairs of the 
world that he did to affairs of his workshop, the 
"Peace Ship" would never have sailed. 

My next connection with the Ford family came 
ten years later, when I was again in Detroit. When I 
was speaking for the blind at the memorable meet- 
ing which I have already described, Mr. and Mrs. 
Henry Ford and Edsel Ford contributed ten 
thousand dollars each. I had another pleasant sur- 
prise when Mr. Ford informed me that he em- 
ployed seventy-three blind men in his plants, not be- 
cause he pitied them, but because they were capable 
of doing their work efficiently. 


It is pleasant to record the Fords' interest in the 
blind, for sometimes during our campaign we have 
been greatly disappointed at the unreadiness of cer- 
tain extremely rich people to respond. Mingled with 
the fragrance of blossoms, the sweet strains of music, 
the gracious hospitality and expressions of kindness 
there were tears of regret at the strange contradic- 
tions of human nature. Grotesque things sometimes 
fall out of fat pocketbooks, but if I went into that 
I should stir up a hornet's nest indeed! 

Chapter XVIII 

Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should some- 
times feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. 
When this happens I ask to be taken to New York 
City. Always I return home weary but I have the 
comforting certainty that mankind is real flesh and 
I myself am not a dream. 

In order to get to New York from my home it is 
necessary to cross one of the great bridges that sepa- 
rate Manhattan from Long Island. The oldest and 
most interesting of them is the Brooklyn Bridge, 
built by my friend. Colonel Roebling, but the one I 
cross oftenest is the Queensborough Bridge at 59th 
Street. How often I have had Manhattan de- 
scribed to me from these bridges ! They tell me the 
view is loveliest in the morning and at sunset when 
one sees the skyscrapers rising like fairy palaces, 
their million windows gleaming in the rosy-tinted 

I like to feel that all poetry is not between the 
covers of poetry books, that much of it is written in 
great enterprises of engineering and flying, that into 
mighty utility man has poured and is pouring his 



dreams, his emotions, his philosophy. This mate- 
rializing of his genius is sometimes inchoate and 
monstrous, but even then sublime in its extravagance 
and courage. Who can deny that the Queensborough 
Bridge is the v^ork of a creative artist? It never fails 
to give me a poignant desire to capture the noble 
cadence of its music. To my friends I say: 

Behold its liberal loveliness of length — • 

A flowing span from shore to shore, 

A brimming reach of beauty matched with strength, 

It shines and climbs like some miraculous dream, 

Like some vision multitudinous and agleam, 

A passion of desire held captive in the clasp of vast utility. 

New York has a special interest for me v^hen it 
is wrapped in fog. Then it behaves very much like a 
blind person. I once crossed from Jersey City to 
Manhattan in a dense fog. The ferry-boat felt its 
way cautiously through the river traffic. More timid 
than a blind man, its horn brayed incessantly. Fog- 
bound, surrounded by menacing, unseen craft and 
dangers, it halted every now and then as a blind man 
halts at a crowded thoroughfare crossing, tapping his 
cane, tense and anxious. 

One of my never-to-be-forgotten experiences was 
circumnavigating New York in a boat. The trip took 
all day. I had with me four people who could use 
the hand alphabet— my teacher, my sister, my niece, 
and Mr. Holmes. One who has not seen New York 


in this way would be amazed at the number of people 
who live on the water. Someone has called them 
"harbour gypsies." Their homes are on boats — whole 
fleets of them, decorated with flower boxes and 
bright-coloured awnings. It is amusing to note how 
many of these stumbling, awkward harbour 
gypsies have pretty feminine names — Bella, Flora- 
dora, Rosalind, Pearl of the Deep, Minnehaha, 
Sister Nell. The occupants can be seen going about 
their household tasks — cooking, washing, sewing, 
gossiping from one barge to another, and there is a 
flood of smells which gives eyes to the mind. The 
children and dogs play on the tiny deck, and chase 
each other into the water, where they are perfectly 
at home. These water-babies are familiar with all 
manner of craft, they know what countries they come 
from, and what cargoes they carry. There are brick 
barges from Holland and fruitboats coming in from 
Havana, and craft loaded with meat, cobblestones, 
and sand push their way up bays and canals. There 
are old ships which have been stripped of their 
majesty and doomed to follow tow ropes up and 
down the harbour. These ships make me think of old 
blind people led up and down the city streets. There 
are aristocratic craft from Albany, Nyack, Newburg. 
There are also boats from New London and Boston, 
from the Potomac and Baltimore and Virginia, from 
Portland, Maine, bringing terra cotta to Manhattan. 


Here comes the fishing fleet from Gloucester hurry- 
ing past the barge houses, and crawling, coal-laden 
tramps. Tracking the turmoil in every direction are 
the saucy ferry boats, bellowing rudely to everyone 
to get out of the way. 

It is a sail of vivid contrast — up the Hudson be- 
tween green hills, past the stately mansions of River- 
side Drive, through the narrow straits that separate 
Manhattan from the mainland, into Harlem and the 
East River, past Welfare Island, where a great mod- 
ern city shelters its human derelicts, on to the welter 
of downtown docks, where longshoremen heave the 
barge cargoes ashore, and the crash of traffic is deaf- 
ening, and back to your pier in the moonlight when 
the harbour gypsies sleep and the sense of peace is 
balm to the tired nerves. 

As I walk up Broadway, the people that brush past 
me seem always hastening toward a destination they 
never reach. Their motions are eager, as if they said, 
"We are on our way, we shall arrive in a moment." 
They keep up the pace — they almost run. Each on his 
quest intent, in endless procession they pass, tragic, 
grotesque, gay, they all sweep onward like rain fall- 
ing upon leaves. I wonder where they are going. I 
puzzle my brain; but the mystery is never solved. 
Will they at last come somewhere? Will anybody 
be waiting for them? The march never ceases. Their 
feet have worn the pavements unevenly. I wish I 

knew where they are going. Some are nonchalant, 
some walk with their eyes on the ground, others step 
lightly, as if they might fly if their wings were not 
bound by the multitude. A pale little woman is guid- 
ing the steps of a blind man. His great hand drags 
on her arm. Awkwardly he shortens his stride to her 
gait. He trips when the curb is uneven; his grip 
tightens on the arm of the woman. Where are they 

Like figures in a meaningless pageant, they pass. 
There are young girls laughing, loitering. They have 
beauty, youth, lovers. They look in the shop windows, 
they look at the huge winking signs ; they jostle the 
crowds, their feet keep time to the music of their 
hearts. They must be going to a pleasant place. I 
think I should like to go where they are going. 

Tremulously I stand in the subways, absorbed into 
the terrible reverberations of exploding energy. Fear- 
ful, I touch the forest of steel girders loud with the 
thunder of oncoming trains that shoot past me like 
projectiles. Inert I stand, riveted in my place. My 
limbs, paralyzed, refuse to obey the will insistent on 
haste to board the train while the lightning steed is 
leashed and its reeling speed checked for a moment. 
Before my mind flashes in clairvoyant vision what all 
this speed portends— the lightning crashing into life, 
the accidents, railroad wrecks, steam bursting free 
like geysers from bands of steel, thousands of racing 


motors and children caught at play, flying heroes 
diving into the sea, dying for speed — all this because 
of strange, unsatisfied ambitions. Another train bursts 
into the station like a volcano, the people crov^d me 
on, on into the chasm — into the dark depths of av^ful 
forces and fates. In a fev^ minutes, still trembling, I 
am spilled into the streets. 

After the turmoil of the city it is a joy to rush 
back to my little garden. My garden is a humble 
place — a rustic nook, a hut of green. One friend says 
it is more like a nest than a garden. Another calls it 
"the philosopher's garden," because it is so v^alled 
in on all sides and so narrov^, but at the same time 
so high that it reaches the stars. For me it is a shelter 
from the bustling w^orld, a place to meditate in, a 
sweet, tranquil haunt of birds, bees, and butterflies, 
a realm of peace v^here a restless spirit often escapes 
from the buffetings of life, a secret confessional where 
my besetting sins are repented. It matters not at 
v^hat hour I enter my garden, v^hether in the cool 
pure dav^n v^hen the golden gates of the sun open, 
and the first rustle of leaves stirs to consciousness the 
bird in its nest, disperses the mists and dev^s from the 
sleeping flov^ers, and each flower uncurls its petals 
and lifts its face to the beauty of the day; or in the 
noonday, when all the banners of life are unfurled 
and the sun's rays turn everything to splendour ; or in 


the magical stillness of evening when shadows steal 
across my path with soundless feet, and I sense ''a 
folding of a world of wings" and down in the dusk 
of the grass fireflies light their glow-lamps, I am 
filled with infinite gladness, and my heart sings the 
praise of the Creator who out of space and eternity 
made this little place for me, and sent the flowers to 
be my comforters. 

I enjoy my garden in all weathers. Even winter- 
time has its own sport and charm for me. As I 
walk briskly along, the wind shakes the snow down 
upon me from the hedge. Every few minutes I pull 
off my gloves to revel in the touch of congealed love- 
liness on the trees and bushes — wondrous forms 
which God has 

Insculped and embossed 
With His hammer of wind, 
And His graver of frost. 

Usually I find the green circle of trees which sur- 
rounds my walk without the slightest difficulty by 
going from the steps along a cement path that turns 
off abruptly at the right, but when the snow is deep 
all paths are obliterated, so that there is no uneven- 
ness of the ground to guide my feet, and I get com- 
pletely lost; but the adventure of blundering into 
every place but the right one gives me a good laugh 
or two before I successfully orientate myself beside 


the hedge, and Mark Twain's felicitous words form a 
sprightly accompaniment to my steps. For I feel like 
Sandy when the Connecticut Yankee asked her, 
"Whereabouts does the castle lie? What is the direc- 
tion from here?" and she replied, "Ah please you, 
sir, it hath no direction from here; by reason that 
the road lieth not straight, but turneth evermore; 
wherefore the direction of its place abideth not, but 
is sometimes under the one sky and anon under an- 
other, whereso if ye be minded that it is in the 
east, and wend thitherward, ye shall observe that the 
way of the road doth yet again turn upon itself by 
the space of half a circle. ... It were woundily 
hard to tell [the leagues I have walked], they are so 
many, and do so lap the one upon the other, and 
being made all in the same image and tincted with 
the same colour, one may not know the one league 
from its fellow, nor how to count them except they be 
taken apart." 

It is when the book of the year opens at the page 
of June that I want to drop my work, whatever it 
may be, and enter the Kingdom of Delight. It is then 
that Nature receives the spring flowers at her Court, 
and each perfect day brings new beauties to grace the 

June,-time within the circle of evergreens that 
shields my garden is a wondrous woof of odourS 
— evergreens and marsh-grass threaded with the scent 


of lilac and laurel. Bright-hued flowers march be- 
side me and hold up lovely faces to me. Where the 
grass grows softest, the violets open their blue eyes 
and look at me wonderingly. I call them dream 
flowers, because I always see them growing in the 
Garden of Sleep — violets and lilies of the valley. 
The honeysuckle trails over the privet wall, blessing 
every breeze with its fragrance. The weigelas reach 
out wraithlike arms to embrace me. When I push 
them aside to pass, how the winged plunderers of 
their sweets scatter in the sunshine ! Tall irises from 
Japan and Germany display their exquisite gowns 
across the ribbon-like trails which the gardener has 
made around the summer house. In one corner of my 
garden there is a clump of old-fashioned lilacs. In 
June the boughs are weighted with loveliness, and 
heart-penetrating odour — oh, nobody has ever put 
it into words ! 

All through May and early June a flaming tide of 
tulips spreads over the lawn, with here and there an 
island of daffodils and hyacinths. If I touch one of 
them, lo, a lily is born in my hands! As far as my 
arms can reach, the same miracle has been wrought. 
Love, which fulfils itself in giving life, has taken 
possession of my Eden. 

One day a few summers ago two robins decided 
to live in my dogwood tree, which was all tremulous 
with white blossoms. It is one of the trees which bor- 


der my green circle. Morning and evening, as I pass 
it again and again, I reach up to touch the branches. 
The robins went about the business of life with 
singleness of purpose. They did not seem to mind me. 
At first, when I put up my hand to touch the 
branches, they would fly off to a near-by tree and 
watch me attentively, but they soon became accus- 
tomed to me. I brought them food and in my awk- 
ward human way tried to tell them I was a friend, 
and had no evil intentions toward them. They seemed 
to understand ; anyway, they came and were quite in- 
different to my doings. I would stand perfectly still 
for a long time with my hand on the branch, and 
often I was rewarded by feeling the leaves quiver 
and the twigs bend ever so slightly. Once I sensed 
a commotion very close to my hand, and a few days 
later I felt a tiny claw pinch my finger. It was not 
many days before the male bird lit squarely upon my 
hand, and after that there was perfect understanding 
between us. A bird doesn't stay long on one's hand 
without saying something. My new bird-friend be- 
gan to twitter; he hopped back and forth on the 
branch, telling his mate about me, I suppose. When 
the eggs were hatched, she came way out on the 
branch to take a good look at me. She must have con- 
cluded that I was harmless, for she flew away on a 
foraging expedition, leaving her little ones at my 


Toward the end of the summer Elizabeth Garrett 
came to see me. We were chatting in my study. A 
thunderstorm came up suddenly, and the rain began 
to beat in. Elizabeth went to close the windows. As 
she did so, she heard a plaintive bird-cry, and, catch- 
ing my hand, drew me to the window. ^'I believe," 
she said, "a bird is beating its wings against the 
screen." It was difficult in the rain to raise the screen ; 
but we succeeded, and there, clinging to the vines 
which had clambered over the sill, was my little 
Robin Hood ! He fluttered into my outstretched hand. 
He was limp and dripping wet. After he dried off 
a bit, he began to fly about the room, scrutinizing 
everything with his inquisitive little eyes. When the 
shower ceased, we took him to the window, but he 
did not seem to want to leave us. His sharp claws 
pinched my finger, he tilted his body, as though he 
would say, "I am satisfied, why do you want me to 
go?" I put him down on the sill, and he flew back 
into the room. We managed to catch him, and again 
I put him outside the screen, and again he flew back 
into the study. This time he hid under the couch, and 
we could not find him. We had to get someone with 
eyes to dig him out. He hopped on the windowsill 
from one side to the other, cocking his head this 
way and that, soliloquizing, I thought. "Oh, which 
do I prefer? Do I prefer you or yonder tree? Shall 
I stay here, or go on and on, away, away, away? Oh, 


my heart reaches out both ways with such contrary 
desires!" At last he slowly spread his wings and un- 
willingly sailed away on the freshly washed air. He 
has never returned to the dogwood tree or my hand. 

Of all things that grow in my garden I love best 
the evergreens. What a beautiful way they have of 
entering into relations with human beings! How 
readily they harmonize the wild nature of their forest 
kindred with our domestic habits, and how subtly 
yet powerfully they influence us while we set bounds 
to their growth. Always beautiful, they seem to draw 
out of us spiritual loveliness akin to their own. 

The evergreens which grow on one side of my 
garden walk seem to know me as I know them. They 
stretch out their branches like hands to me and tease 
me and pull my hair whenever I pass them. In the 
springtime, when the world swims with odours of 
life, they bend toward me like friends full of glad 
news. They try to tell me what it is but I cannot 
always make out what they are saying. I imagine 
they are asking each other why human creatures 
move from place to place, unstable as water, and as 
the wind that is always in motion. "Look!" they 
say, pointing their sharp little fingers, "look how she 
is going in and out among the flowers, like the moths 
the wind is blowing away out of sight." 

If I could fathom that murmur, that sigh, I should 
fathom the depths of consciousness of my evergreens. 

I do not know whether they speak of the future, but 
I am positive they could reveal the past. I should 
find out the whence and the how of things that hap- 
pened centuries ago. They could tell me what they 
have fared through in the immortality that lies be- 
hind them. I have felt the rings buried in trees- 
rings of the many seasons of births and deaths they 
died to reach this life. Why this thirst to rise higher? 
Why this love of stars and sun and clouds? Why 
this sense of duty to the earth, this fixity of purpose, 
this inward soul that remembers and sighs? As I 
stand beside my evergreens they whisper "All that 
is you has always been, and will always be. Every 
atom and every impulse of you began in eternity 
with us, and with us will return into eternity." 

Oh, when my spirit is sore fretted by the thought 
of the unhappiness in the world, it soothes me to walk 
back and forth beside my evergreens. I feel like a 
flower after a night's frost, when it steadies itself 
on its stem and looks up again to the sky with 
brave hope. And ever as I walk round my green 
circle, I seem to hear the song of the roots down in 
the ground, cheerily toiling in the dark. They never 
see the lovely work they have wrought. Hidden away 
in darkness they bring forth flowers of light! Little 
and despised are they; but oh, mighty is their power 
to create flower and tree! I think of them no less lov- 
ingly because they are out of reach of my hand. 


As I walk round and round the green circle, rain- 
wet winds fleck filmy spray in my face. From far-off 
shores come sweet memories which surge and sigh 
like surf breaking on invisible sands. They send a 
spray of whispers through my mind— 'Home! 
South-land!" "Mother." "Father." My heart gropes 
in the throbbing darkness for the dear hands that 
long ago caressed me and guided my faltering steps. 
Words spelled by tiny, irresolute hands make me 
smile. They are so real, I almost feel my baby sister 
pressing against my knee. 

The warm winds of Alabama flit between me and 
the years. My brother Phillips is lisping, his baby 
voice tapping lightly against my finger-tips, "Sis 
Helen, please play horse with me." So many years 
I sleep and wake and sleep again ; but memory gives 
back the kisses that brushed my cheek and the hands 
that brought me violets and the first ripe strawberry. 
O the preciousness of all things that are "beautiful 
for being old and gone." O the young days wreathed 
in jessamine and rose-scented, full of frolic and the 
din of mocking birds beating at the gates of Para- 
dise I 

O south winds, blow leagues and leagues beyond 
the bars of night, or you'll have the heart out of my 
breast with your sighs over the changes and the dis- 
tances! The world is wide to roam, yet my thoughts 
are all for taking the path the south winds have 


come. At the end of that path my loved ones are wait- 
ing for me— Mildred and Warren, Phillips and 
Ravia, Katherine, Patricia and little Mildred, 
Brooks and baby Katherine. Names— names, yet 
how sweet they sound in the ear of my heart! I am 
coming home, children dear, to hide myself from 
work and cares behind the arras of your gay laugh- 
ter! You shall do with me as you will in merry wise, 
and I shall forget for a brief space the cares of the 
grown-up world ! 

Winds of the South, you have brought me pain 
and joy in one breath! But you have poured your 
changeless sweetness upon my weary head and 
quieted the restless roaming of my mind. 

All of us need to go often into the woods alone 
and sit in silence at the feet of Nature. A few years 
ago I persuaded my conscience to turn its back 
upon prosaic tasks and go pleasuring in the open for 
two months. Mrs. Macy and Edna Porter went with 
me. Our automobile was equipped with a tent, a 
small gasoline stove, an ice box, and last but not least, 
Sieglinde, whose business it was to strike terror into 
the hearts of wandering Robin Hoods and other 
mtruders. One of our camping spots was a pasture 
in the Berkshires where a brook laughed and romped. 
We were awakened in the morning by a herd of 
cows. I touched their glossy coats and wet noses as 
they investigated our bivouac, and if they objected 


to this familiarity they kept their thoughts to them- 
selves. Another spot I loved v^as a pine wood near 
Lake Champlain. One night v^e pitched our tent in 
a great hay field out of Montreal which we called 
Stormfield because just after we had settled for the 
night a tempest burst upon us. We followed the St. 
Lawrence from Montreal to Quebec, from Quebec 
we came down through Maine and camped on the 
Kennebec River. Logs were being floated down from 
Moosehead Lake to sawmills farther along. In order 
to get a sense of what the river was like I crawled 
into it, keeping my body out of the reach of the logs 
and clinging to the rocks. The current turned me 
over and over like a leaf, but I managed to touch 
some of the logs as they shot past, and the sense of 
adventure was delightful. 

We returned home slowly by way of the White 
Mountains and the Adirondacks. In New Hampshire 
we camped on the top of a hill near Lake Winnipe- 
saukee because the other members of the party liked 
the view. But before the night was over we discov- 
ered that a fine landscape does not make a fine camp. 
A demoniacal wind sprang up which was soon rein- 
forced by a whole army of marauding winds which 
seemed bent on tearing the tent to shreds. Finally 
they did lift it, and would have carried it off bodily 
if we had not each grasped a rope and held on with 
might and main. Sieglinde howled like the winds 


themselves. At daybreak we wrapped ourselves in 
blankets, chucked the tent into the car and made our 
escape, with never a backward look at the beautiful 
view that had lured us into that battlefield of the 
winds. When we reached a sheltered spot we made 
coffee, rested a little, dressed, and continued on our 

The most wonderful camp of all was in the very 
heart of the Adirondacks, where the shade was so 
dense that noonday seemed like midnight. We slept 
on a bed of firs, by the side of a log fire which 
burned all night. From the Adirondacks we dropped 
into the Catskills and down the Hudson back to 
New York. 

People sometimes express surprise that I enjoy the 
out-of-doors. But God has put much of his work in 
raised print. The sweet voices of the earth reach me 
through other avenues than hearing and sight. When 
I am in the woods I love to put out my hand and 
catch the rustling tread of small creatures in the 

I love to follow dark roads that smell of moss and 
wet grasses, hill roads and deep valley roads so nar- 
row that the trees and bushes touch me as I pass. 

I love to stand on a little bridge and feel the brook 
flowing under it with minnows in her hands. 

I love to sit on a fallen tree so long that the shy 
wood-things forget it may be imprudent to step on 


my toes, and the dimpling cascade throws water- 
spray in my face. With body still and observant, I 
hear myriad sounds that I understand — leaf sounds, 
grass sounds, and twigs creaking faintly when birds 
alight on them, and grass swaying when insects' 
wings brush it, and the thistle's silvery flutter. These 
sounds I hear, yet my way is still. 

Chapter XIX 


More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved 
book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my 
spirit is free. Books are my compensation for the 
harms of fate. They give me a world for a lost world, 
and for mortals who have disappointed me they give 
me gods. 

I cannot take space to name here all the books 
that have enriched my life, but there are a few that 
I cannot pass over. The one I have read most is the 
Bible. I have read and reread it until in many parts 
the pages have faded out — I mean, my fingers have 
rubbed off the dots, and I must supply whole verses 
from memory, especially the Psalms, the Prophets, 
and the Gospels. To the Bible I always go for con- 
fidence when waves of doubt rush over me and no 
voice is near to reassure me. 

In My Religion I have written of how Sweden- 
borg deepened my sense of the Lord's presence on 
earth. His books have given me a richer understand- 
ing of the Bible and a precious sense of the Lord's 
nearness. They have kept burning within me a de- 
sire to be of use and to help prepare the way for the 



second coming of our Lord in the lives of men. I 
still have The Divine Love and Wisdom, Intercourse 
Between the Soul and the Body, and many volumes 
of extracts from his other books which were copied 
for me when I was a little girl by Mr. Hitz, who was 
the first to open that wonderful window into the 
spiritual world for me. 

It was while I was still a little girl that I made the 
acquaintance of three great American writers who 
are inseparably linked in my mind. All three opened 
for me magic windows through which I still look 
upon the universe and find it "many splendoured." 
I mean Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Of the 
three Whitman is my best beloved. He has been an 
inspiration to me in a very special way. I began to 
read his poetry years ago at a time when I was 
almost overwhelmed by a sense of isolation and self- 
doubt. It was when I read "The Song of the Open 
Road" that my spirit leaped up to meet him. For 
me his verses have the quality of exquisite physical 
sensations. They wave like flowers, they quiver like 
fountains, or rush on like mountain torrents. He sings 
unconquerable life. He is in the middle of the stream. 
He marches with the world's thought, not against 
it. To me he seems incomparably our greatest poet. 
He is a prophet, a voice crying in the wilderness, 
"Prepare ye the way for the new day." Leaves 
of Grass is the true American epic in the vastness of 


its scope, in the completeness and beauty of its execu- 
tion. As the sea reflects the sky's immensity, so 
Leaves of Grass reflects the glowing, potential soul 
of America. He portrays America as a young giantess 
subduing a continent, and sings of her vastness, of 
her resources, her multitudinous activities, her un- 
paralleled material development, her commercial- 
ism, her restlessness, turmoil, and blindness, her dull- 
ness and drudgery, her dreams and longings, her tire- 
less energy, her limitless opportunity. She is law- 
less, rushing onward, always at extremities. She is 
anarchic — she does not walk, she runs— she does not 
run, she flies— she does not fly, she falls; all this 
Whitman has pictured in a way that, so far as I 
know, no one else has approached. 

I did not know Whitman personally, but I knew 
his friend, Horace Traubel, editor of The Con- 
servator, When I came to live in New York, I met 
him occasionally at meetings in memory of Whit- 
man. Later he came to see us here in Forest Hills, 
and we had some delightful talks together. One of 
the things he said about Whitman that I remember 
was, ''He's an age. As a man he has exhausted his 
vitality, but as an age he is exhaustless. The world 
will go on thinking about Whitman and getting new 
lights on him as long as men continue to think about 
the age he lived in. The mystical predominates in 
him. That is why you get so near him. Many people 


miss him altogether because they lack that sense, 
but you could set your net anywhere in Whitman 
and catch something worth taking home." 
^ Next to Whitman in the American trio I love 
Thoreau. When I read Thoreau, I am not conscious 
of him or the book or the words which flow under 
my finger-tips, I am There. Through him Nature 
speaks without an interpreter. He puts his ear to 
her breast and hears her heart beat; and she speaks 
to me in her own voice. I am a part of the river, 
the lake, the field, the woods — I am a spirit wild and 
free. I see everything for myself, no one interprets for 
me. I have the illusion of being free of my depriva- 
tions — I live my life in my own way. 

Another naturalist whose books are to me a har- 
bour of content is John Burroughs. They are what 
he was when I met him — drenched in the sunshine 
and sweetness of the out-of-door world. I love all 
that he loves — birds, bees, and everything that blooms 
and ripens, snow, ice, rain and wind, and the restful 
simplicity of a life freed from the complex trappings 
of modern society. 

An American who is somehow connected in my 
mind with Plato and Francis Bacon is Professor 
William James. When I was a little girl he came to 
see Miss Sullivan and me at the Perkins Institution 
for the Blind in South Boston. He brought me a 
beautiful ostrich feather, ''I thought/' he said, "you 


would like the feather, it is soft and light and caress- 

We talked about my sense perceptions and he 
wove a magic web into his discourse. He said then, 
and afterwards when I sent him a copy of The World 
I Live In, that in our problems and processes of 
thought we do not greatly differ from one another. 
He was not surprised to find my world so much like 
that of everyone else, though he said he was "quite 
disconcerted, professionally speaking," by my ac- 
count of myself before my " ^consciousness' was 
awakened by instruction." 

His thought was clear like crystal. His body, like 
his mind, was quick and alert. In argument his 
tongue was like a rapier, but he was always ready to 
listen to the other side, and always made me ashamed 
of my cocksureness about many things. 

He was not a mystic — his mind could not thrive on 
air as mine does — but I think he was something of a 
poet as well as a philosopher. 

As a young woman I was extremely fortunate in 
having John Macy to counsel me with regard to 
books. He was a great reader and an enthu- 
siastic admirer of all that is beautiful in poetry 
and prose. Whenever in his own reading he found 
anything particularly impressive he read the pas- 
sage to me. He read long passages from William 
James's books as they came out, and many of Steveq- 


son's letters. He suggested that Mr. Hitz put Virgini- 
bus Puerisque, and E. V. Lucas's The Open Road, 
and The Friendly Town into braille, and he read 
other books for me which later were printed in 
braille, Huckleberry Finn among them. And it was 
he who had Shelley's "The Cenci" embossed for me. 

One of the most stimulating adventures I ever had 
occurred when Mr. Macy became absorbed in the 
question of the authorship of the Shakespeare plays. 
We read books on the subject by Reed, Greenwood, 
Begley, and our friend, Mr. William Stone Booth. 
I cannot go into details here. I can merely com- 
ment on the confused, breathless wonder of that de- 
lightful time. Mr. Furness himself had told me that 
only three facts had been ascertained with regard to 
England's greatest genius — he was born, he married, 
and he died! I was human enough to experience a 
lively sense of gratification when Mr. Booth's argu- 
ments convinced me that Bacon had left his signa- 
ture upon the plays in the form of acrostics. I could 
look behind them not to an uneducated rustic, but 
to a man of mighty intellect. One not without grave 
faults, but one who was "a memorable example to all 
of virtue, kindness, peaceableness and patience, one 
who stood cool and composed before a thousand 
universes." Whether this was right or wrong, the 
vigorous discussion shook my mind into more inde- 
pendent thinking, and taught me not to be afraid of 

established opinions. Such experiences add many 
years to one's biography; for a thousand thoughts 
spring up where there was one. 

I am constantly surprised at the slight things 
which have influenced me. A casual acquaintance, an 
article in a magazine or a book, has caused me to 
discard opinions I had held with a dogged faith. 
When Mr. Macy first introduced me to H. G. 
Wells's New Worlds for Old, the kingdom which 
was my mind became a Social Utopia. With con- 
fidence I exchanged my old world for his new one. 
How simple he made everything! His eloquence 
changed the selfish old world into a fair City of 
God. Was not this the fulfilment of the hope of 
youth? Mr. Wells was a glorified prophet until I 
saw that he stopped at every altar to revise his 
articles of faith. Then I gave him up but he had 
already made a lot of trouble for me— God forgive 

It was Mr. Macy who introduced me to Tolstoi 
Romain Rolland, Hardy, Shaw, Kropotkin, Anatole 
France, Brieux, and Karl Marx. I had the pleasure 
of meeting M. Brieux some years later when I was 
lecturing in Northampton and he was lecturing at 
Smith College. He could not speak English, and 
my French was atrocious, but by some miracle of 
intuition we understood each other : I read his lips, 
and he was so delighted when I repeated his words 


correctly, his tears fell on my hand. I managed to tell 
him I liked his brood of heresies, and that I was 
grateful to him for breaking the cowardly silence of 
the world on social evils. I told him how my eyes 
had opened to those evils in my work for the blind. 
I tried to say in French that we must use the lever 
of plain speech to pry at the underpinnings of a 
social system which ruins human bodies and minds 
and covers the disaster with false blushes. I could 
not think of the words for lever and pry, so my 
high sailing sentiment went on the rocks. I managed 
better with my offering that M. Brieux and Mr. 
Shaw were true reformers, and both were assuredly 
destined to drive people out of their refuge of pre- 
tended ignorance. "But," said M. Brieux, "according 
to the critics we are not artists, and should be cast 
out because art has nothing to do with social or 
political reform — it is an expression of beauty for 
beauty's sake." 

I think he assented to this view; but he said 
beauty meant something different to him. "All things 
are beautiful to me if they are a real part of human 
life. Sad, terrible things must be shown also. To 
realize ugliness is to suffer and to long for beauty." 

After he returned to France he wrote to me, and I 
was glad to learn through an article he inclosed that 
he was taking an active part in the rehabilitation of 
blind soldiers. 


I encountered another distinguished author from 
a foreign shore when I was in vaudeville. Mr. G. K. 
Chesterton happened to be in Cleveland when I was 
there. We were stopping at the same hotel. One eve- 
ning he and Mrs. Chesterton called on us in our 
rooms. He was exactly what I expected after reading 
Father Brown, Trifles, and Three Diamonds, qnly 
more delightful. He was a formidable personage, 
with an Englishman's honest prejudices against 
nearly everything American, and a scintillating 
vocabulary in which to parade them. As our faults 
passed before us they were so brilliantly illuminated 
by Chestertonian rays of wit, aphorism, and invec- 
tive that we were glad we had them. 

I find that my mental constitution is unlike that 
of most modern writers. I am thinking especially of 
Mr. Mencken, Mr. Sinclair Lewis, and Mr. Eugene 
O'Neill. I enjoy being credulous, while they seem 
to abhor it. I am aware of a subtle connivance with 
my folly. I keep the windows of my soul open to 
illusions. Like the saints of early years, I am con- 
stantly on the lookout for miracles. The unexpected 
may happen at any odd moment, and I want to be 
on the spot. 

Of all the writers that have come to me in recent 
years Joseph Conrad stands preeminent. I did not 
really make his acquaintance until 1920 — I did not 
have any of his books in braille before then. I cannot 


define the peculiar fascination he has for me, but 
he took possession of me at once. I had always loved 
books of the sea, and the days I have spent along 
the shore have been happy ones. I love the dunes and 
the sea weeds that drift in and crawl up on the sands, 
the little waves that creep through shells and peb- 
bles, like fingers seeking to spell a message to me. 
"We used to be friends when you were the beginning 
of a fish— do you remember?" I love winds and 
storms and sailors, tropical dawns leaping out of the 
east, and billows that like mighty tusked mastodons 
crunch the land. It may be that I am especially alive 
to the spell of the sea because it is so much like the 
darkness that is my element. The dark, too, has its 
deep silent currents and dangerous reefs, its mon- 
sters, its creatures of beauty, its derelicts and ships. 
In the dark, too, there is a star to steer by, and no 
matter how far I travel there are always before me 
vast oceans of experience that I have not yet ex- 

It seems to me, the picture most constantly in Con- 
rad's mind is that of bits of humanity adrift upon a 
dark sea, trying to save themselves. Some think they 
can reach shore by swimming, some fashion rafts, 
some keep bobbing up and down, declaring that there 
is no shore, yet they go on fighting, driven by some 
incomprehensible urge to self-preservation. While 
they seek to reach an invisible shore, they see them* 

selves as eventually safe, triumphant heirs of im- 
mortal happiness. What matter the loneliness, the 
hardships, the loud beating of the billows and solemn 
moan of fathomless waters? What counts is the inner 
vision, the brightness and blessedness of the dream. 

Mr. Frank Nelson Doubleday, Conrad's friend 
and publisher who is also my friend and publisher, 
has given me Chance, Victory, and the Life and Let- 
ters by Jean-Aubry. My teacher had the Life and 
Letters put into braille as soon as they came. While 
I have been writing they have been reposing tan- 
talizingly on the shelf, and my fingers have ached to 
get hold of them. 

I like books that bring me close to elemental things 
—books like Willa Gather's My Antonia, Knut Ham- 
sun's Growth of the Soil, Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon 
River Anthology, and Olive Schreiner's The 
Story of an African Farm. Two years ago Miss 
Thomson gave me The Story of an African Farm, 
It was the first time I had read anything of Olive 
Schreiner's. I do not know of another woman writer 
who has the power and vision of the author of this 
book. It is now fifty-three years since it was written 
and it is still as terrible as a primal force of nature. 

Thomas Hardy came to me first with Tess of the 
D'Urbervilles in his hand. The intensity of his dark 
vision fascinated me. He is the greatest pessimist in 
English letters, I think, with the exception of Dean 


Swift, but his disheartening realism stimulates while 
it depresses. Like Job, he is a poet, and one cannot 
escape the feeling that he revels in his dark sor- 
ceries, or the wish that a few gentle fairies had 
made their abode in Dorsetshire. 
f Bernard Shaw came to me first accompanied by 
Candida and her poet lover. I cannot imagine any- 
one dozing when Shaw is around. There is a mis- 
chievous imp in him which brings the dullest of us 
to attention. He is the gadfly of the absurdities of 
our time. He has packed into two short sentences the 
causes of unhappiness in the world. "What is the 
matter with the poor is poverty," he says. "What is 

Lthe matter with the rich is uselessness." 
—A recent book that I have enjoyed immensely is 
Microbe Hunters, by Paul de Kruif. It was most 
comforting to learn that great scientists are human 
like ourselves. I could have shouted with glee over 
their quarrels, jealousies, and mistakes. How like 
mere mortals they are in their weaknesses! But how 
like gods in their imagination, patience, and nobility 
of purpose! I have read few books relating to science 
so entrancing as this one. 

At times when I have not been able to get books 
I wanted embossed over here because our braille 
presses were so busy with other matters I have ap- 
pealed to my friend, Sir Arthur Pearson, in Eng- 
land. It was he who had Turgenev's Smoke done for 


me and Value, Price, and Profit, by Karl Marx. 
Several of Conrad's books were also transcribed for 
me in England. 

Publishers of books are as generous in giving 
reprint permission to the blind as publishers of 
magazines, but the publishing of braille books is 
expensive, and many of the most important works 
by the greatest authors are not available for the blind. 
Very few of the blind can own any books at all, 
not even a Bible. The cheapest Bible in raised print 
costs sixty-five dollars. 

Through the generosity of the Lions International 
the blind are enjoying a great many more books 
than they ever had before. We are indebted to them 
for The Forsyte Saga. Galsworthy opens a wide 
window for me. Like William Blake, he feels that a 
bird in a cage puts out a light in Heaven, and that 
the cry of a hunted animal tears a fibre out of the 
brain of an angel, and that beggars' rags are toad- 
stools on a prince's throne. ''As he caresses the heads 
of his own dogs, an aching tenderness runs from his 
finger-tips to the human under-dog— to tramp, and 
prostitute, and hungry workingman." He knows 
that compared with the spiritual experiences life 
has to ofifer, "property" is nothing, nothing, nothing! 

I wish I could express what poetry means to me. 
I have always loved it. For many years I have had 
beside me Palgrave's Golden Treasury, Keats, Shel- 


ley, Whitman, Browning, and Burns. In all of these 
books there are pages which I have worn out. Keats's 
"I Stood Tip-toe on a Little Hill" is quite flat. Shel- 
ley's "Prometheus Unbound," "To a Skylark," and 
"The Cloud" are very thin. So is Browning's "Saul," 
and the whole of The Golden Treasury is in a sad 
state of dilapidation. 

Poetry is to me the Mystic Trumpeter of which 
Walt Whitman says, 

At thy liquid prelude, glad, serene. 

The fretting world, the street, the noisy hours of day withdraw, 

A holy calm descends like dew upon mc, 

I walk in cool refreshing night the walk of paradise, 

I scent the grass, the moist air and the roses ; 

Thy song expands my numb'd, imbonded spirit, thou freest, 

launchest me. 
Floating and basking upon Heaven's lake. 

Next to Whitman my favourite American poet is 
Lanier. It is given to poets and blind people to see 
into the Unseen, and together Lanier and I have 
gazed into the "sweet-within-sweet" mystery of 
flowers and corn and clover, and the sweep of marsh 
and sea has revealed to us the liberty beyond the 
prison bars of sense. 

As I read the poems which Francis Thompson 
seems to put into my hands as a child brings "some 
fond and fancied nothings," all I touch becomes 
more significant— the rustle of the leaves, the shy 
ways of children, the fugitive winds that come and 


go among the flowers with trackless feet; and always 
there is the undertone of ineffaceable sorrow and 

I have not said much about the poets who are sing- 
ing to-day because their music is not in raised letters. 
I only catch tantalizing notes now and then when 
some good Samaritan who is also a lover of poetry 
reads to me. In this way I have enjoyed poems by 
Yeats, Padraic Colum, and others. The brooding 
Celtic note grips my heart. Yeats makes me want to 
visit the Isle of Innisf ree and know the Danaan people 
and gather ''the golden apples of the sun" and "the 
silver apples of the moon." For a time our house in 
Wrentham was vibrant with Synge's tragic laughter. 
My mother read me ''Riders to the Sea" and "The 
Well of the Saints." I also go with Douglas Hyde into 
the cabins of Connaught where he finds songs on the 
lips of old women spinning in the sun. I should like 
to see more of the shining ones George Russell (IE) 
finds dwelling among the hills of old Ireland. And 
more of Lord Dunsany, who seems in the poem or 
two I have read to penetrate into the realms of 
twilight wonder where the incredible is tangible, 
and the Irish little folk make music that enthralls 
the unwary. 

John Masefield is the most vital of the English 
poets I have met of recent years. Poetry is not for 
him, as for the Irish, an escape from life, but his 


slums and peasants and sailors and taverns interest 

Perhaps it is true of everyone, but it seems to me 
that in a special way what I read becomes a part of 
me. What I am conscious of borrowing from my 
author friends I put in quotation marks, but I do not 
know how to indicate the wandering seeds that drop 
unperceived into my soul. I am not even extenuating 
my appropriation of fine thoughts. I prefer to put 
quotation marks at the beginning and the end of my 
book and leave it to those who have contributed to 
its interest or charm or beauty to take what is theirs 
and accept my gratitude for the help they have been 
to me. I know that I am not original in either content 
or form. I have not opened new paths to thought 
or new vistas to truth, but I hope that my books have 
paid tribute in some small measure to the authors 
who have enriched my life. 

Chapter XX 


I HAVE already said that people are not interested 
in what I think of things outside myself, but there 
are certain subjects about which I feel very deeply, 
and this book would not be an honest record of my 
life if I avoided them. I realize that I am apt to be 
too dogmatic when I write of things that mean much 
to me. I know it would be an advantage to express 
disapproval with captivating grace. If I could de- 
liver my indictments with an urbanity so exquisite 
that every reader would feel himself implicitly 
exempted from the charge, and free to relish the 
strokes administered to the rest, this chapter would 
be more enjoyed. Even the accused like to be taken 
into their enemy's confidence, and invited as a per- 
sonal favour to look on while execution is being done 
on the host without. While they laugh, no doubt they 
resolve privately to be less like those "others" in the 
future. But delicate banter is not one of my strong 
points. I ask nothing for myself. I am not among the 
victims of unjust laws. The struggle I have gone 
through is no worse than, indeed, it is not so grinding 



as, that of the majority of men and women who are 
enmeshed in economic problems which they are in- 
capable of solving. 

When I look out upon the world, I see society 
divided into two great elements, and organized 
around an industrial life which is selfish, combative, 
and acquisitive, with the result that man's better in- 
stincts are threatened, while his evil propensities are 
intensified and protected. My knowledge of the con- 
ditions that this system imposes is not vicarious. I 
have visited mill towns in Massachusetts, Georgia, 
the Carolinas, Alabama, Rhode Island, and New 
Jersey. I have visited mining towns in Pennsylvania, 
Utah, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, and 
Colorado. I have been in foundry towns when 
the men were on strike. I have been in pack- 
ing towns when the men were on strike. I have 
been in New York when the longshoremen were on 
strike. I have been on the New York Central when 
the railroad men were on strike, and stones went 
flying through the windows. I have spoken in cities 
where feeling was so intense because of the conflict 
between capital and labour that when I was asked 
questions about the dispute part of the audience 
hissed, and the manager came on to the stage to ask 
rpe not to answer. 

/I have gone through ugly dark streets filled with 
small children whose little grimy faces already look 


old. Many of them are defective in body or mind or 

All over America I have been appalled by the 
number of young children v^ho spend the greater 
part of the day in stufify, overcrowded rooms, looked 
after by old people or by children only a little older 
than themselves, while their parents work in factories 
or in other people's houses. This seems to me the 
most deplorable tragedy of our modern life. A 
nation's first and last responsibility is the welfare of 
its children. No nation can live if its children must 
struggle not to die; no nation can decay if its children 
are healthy and happy. These children who have 
neither health nor happiness, who were born in ill- 
5.melling, sunless tenements, whose hunger drove them 
early to the sweat-shops and mills and mines— these 
children, who in body and soul have become dwarfed 
and misshapen, are not fit citizens for a republic. 
They are at once a danger and a reproach. / 

We bar the children of Europe's slurfis at our 
gates. Our immigration laws do not permit the weak 
and unfit to come into our country, but a singular 
change of sentiment occurs when mothers wish to 
restrict another kind of immigration far wider and 
more fateful. Anyone who advocates the limitation 
of families to a number which their parents can care 
for in health and decency is frowned upon as a law- 
breaker. It is not illegal to bring defective children 


into the world to grow up in soul-destroying poverty, 
but it is criminal for a physician to tell a mother how 
to protect herself and her family by birth-control! 
It is a strange, illogical order that makes it a crime 
to teach the prevention of conception and yet fails 
to provide decent living conditions for the swarms of 
babies that come tumbling into the world. 
/ O America, beloved of my heart! The worst that 
men will say of you is this : You took little children 
out of their cradles, out of the sun and dewy grass, 
away from play and their toys, and huddled them 
between dark walls of brick and cement to work for 
a wage, for their bread. For their heart-hunger you 
gave them dust to eat, and for their labour you filled 
their little hands with ashes! / 

I love my country. To say that is like saying I love 
my family. I did not choose my country any more 
than I chose my parents, but I am her daughter 
just as truly as I am the child of my Southern 
mother and father. What I am my country has 
made me. She has fostered the spirit which made my 
education possible. Neither Greece nor Rome, nor 
all China, nor Germany nor Great Britain has sur- 
rounded a deaf-blind child with the devotion and 
skill and resources which have been mine in America. 

But my love for America is not blind. Perhaps I 
am more conscious of her faults because I love her so 
deeply. Nor am I blind to my own faults. It is easy 


to see that there is little virtue in the old formulas, 
and that new ones must be found, but even after one 
has decided this, it is not easy to hold a steady course 
in a changing world. 

One of the painful consequences of holding to 
one's course, if it is unpopular, is the division it 
causes between friends. It is not pleasant to feel that 
friends who have loved us no longer care to see us. 
One says defiantly, "I don't care! I'm perfectly happy 
without their friendship"; but it is not true. One can- 
not help feeling very sad about it at times. We are 
all complex. I wish I were made of just one self — 
consistent, wise, and loving — a self I should never 
wish to get rid of at any time or place, which would 
move graciously through my autobiography, ''trail- 
ing clouds of glory." But alas and alack! Deep within 
me I knew nothing of the kind would happen. No 
wonder I shrank from writing this book. 

It is no use trying to reconcile the multitude of 
egos that compose me. I cannot fathom myself. I ask 
myself questions that I cannot answer. I find my 
heart aching when I expected to find it rejoicing, 
tears flow from my eyes when my lips were formed 
to smile. I preach love, brotherhood, and peace, but 
I am conscious of antagonisms, and lo! I find myself 
brandishing a sword and making ready for the battle. 

I think that every honest belief should be treated 
with fairness, yet I cry out against people who uphold 


the empire of gold. I am aware of moods when the 
perfect state of peace, brotherhood, and universal 
love seems so far off that I turn to division, pugnacity, 
and the pageant of war. I am just like St. Paul when 
he says, "I delight in the Law of God after the in- 
ward man; but I see another law in my members, 
warring against the law of my mind." I am perfectly 
sure that love will bring everything right in the end, 
but I cannot help sympathizing with the oppressed 
who feel driven to use force to gain the rights that 
belong to them. 

That is one reason why I have turned with such 
interest towards the great experiment now being tried 
in Russia. No revolution was ever a sudden outbreak 
of lawlessness and wreckage incited by an unholy 
brood of cranks, anarchists, and pedagogues. People 
turn to revolution only when every other dream has 
faded into the dimness of sorrow. When we look back 
upon these mighty disturbances which seem to leap 
so suddenly out of the troubled depths we find that 
they were fed by little streams of discontent and 
oppression. These little streams which have their 
source deep down in the miseries of the common 
people all flow together at last in a retributive flood. 

The Russian Revolution did not originate with 
Lenin. It had hovered for centuries in the dreams of 
Russian mystics and patriots, but when the body of 
Lenin was laid in simple state in the Kremlin, all 


Russia trembled and wept. The mouths of hungry 
enemies fed on new hopes, but the spirit of Lenin 
lescended upon the weeping multitude as with cloven 
tongues of fire, and they spoke one to another, and 
were not afraid. ^'Let us not follow him with cower- 
ing hearts," they said, ''let us rather gird ourselves 
for the task he has left us. Where our dull eyes see 
only ruin, his clearer sight discovers the road by 
which we shall gain our liberty. Revolution, he sees, 
yea, and even disintegration which symbolizes dis- 
order is in truth the working of God's undeviating 
Order; and the manner of our government shall be 
ho less wonderful than the manner of our deliverance. 
If we are steadfast, the world will be quickened to 
courage by our deeds." 

Men vanish from earth leaving behind them the fur- 
rows they have ploughed. I see the furrow Lenin left 
sown with the unshatterable seed of a new life for 
mankind, and cast deep below the rolling tides of 
storm and lightning, mighty crops for the ages to reap. 

It is not possible for civilization to flow backwards 
while there is youth in the world. Youth may be 
headstrong, but it will advance its allotted length. 
Through the ages in the battle with the powers of 
evil — with poverty, misery, ignorance, war, ugliness 
and slavery, youth has steadily gained on the enemy. 
That is why I never turn away from the new genera- 
tion impatiently because of its knowingness. Through 


it alone shall salvation come. 

Yet the prospect of the millennium does not seem 
to me as imminent as it once did. The process of the 
emancipation of mankind from old ideas is very slow. 
The human race does not take to new ways of living 
readily, but I do not feel discouraged. Personally, I 
am impeded by physical difficulties which generate 
forces powerful enough to carry me over the barriers. 
This is true of the world's problems, too. It is for us 
to work with all our might to unite the spiritual 
power of good against the material power of evil. 

It is for us to pray not for tasks equal to our powers, 
but for powers equal to our tasks, to go forward with 
a great desire forever beating at the door of our 
hearts as we travel towards the distant goal. 

Man is unconquerable when he stands on the rights 
of man. It is inspiring to see against the background 
of our ignorance an old ideal or a discarded truth 
flash forth new-created. The tragic deaths of Sacco 
and Vanzetti were a fiery sign to the friends of free- 
dom everywhere that the powers never slumber which 
seek to subject the weak and unbefriended. Now and 
then a Juares, a Liebnecht, a Debs, a Rolland, a Lenin, 
or a Tolstoi startles the dormant souls of a few men 
and women with the thunder of his words. The veil 
of the temple is for a moment rent in twain ; Truth, 
piercing as lightning, reveals the hideous thing we 
have made of our humanity. 


Then the veil is drawn, and the world sleeps again, 
sometimes for centuries, but never as comfortably 
as it did before. 

This need not discourage us. We can still keep our 
faces towards the dawn, knowing that with God a 
thousand years are as a watch in the night. There is 
always a new horizon for onward looking men. 

The world which my imagination constructs out 
of my philosophy of evolution is pleasant to contem- 
plate. It is a realization of everything that seems 
desirable to us in our best moods, and the people that 
live in it are like those we sometimes meet whose 
nobility is a prophecy of what we shall be when we 
have reached the state in which the different parts 
of our bodies and souls, our hearts and minds, have 
attained their right proportions. This state will not 
be attained without tribulation. 

The clatter of a changing world is not pleasant, 
and those who have enjoyed the comforts and pro- 
tection of the old order may be shocked and unhappy 
when they behold the vigorous young builders of a 
new world sweeping away their time-honoured an- 
tiquities. I look forward to the time when the most 
atrocious of these antiquities — war — will be as much 
shunned by mankind as it is now glorified. The voice 
within us that cries so passionately for peace cannot 

"The great God," said William Penn in his address 


to the Indians, ''hath written His Law in our hearts, 
by which we are taught and commanded to love and 
help do good to one another. It is not our custom to 
bear hostile weapons against our fellow creatures, 
for which reason we come unarmed. Our object is 
not to do injury, but to do good. We are now met on 
the broad pathway to good faith and good will, so 
that no advantage may be taken on either side, but 
all is to be openness, brotherhood, and love, while 
all are to be treated as of the same flesh and blood." 

If the experience of the other colonies of the At- 
lantic seaboard was any criterion, Penn and his 
followers were preparing themselves for destruction. 
Any wise militarist of Massachusetts or Maryland or 
Virginia could have told him of the treacherous 
Indians, of their bloodthirstiness, of their unexpected 
raids with tomahawk and torch, and the necessity, 
therefore, of being armed. But the Quakers did not 
know, or if they did know, they did not believe, and 
so they came to this wilderness without so much as a 
sword or a rifle, to establish a ''City of Brotherly 
Love," and they succeeded. While other settlements 
were attacked and burned, and slaughtered or carried 
ofif into captivity, the little Pennsylvania colony en- 
joyed uninterrupted peace and prosperity. The 
Quakers had no forts, no soldiers, no arms. They 
lived in the midst of a savage people who knew that 


they were defenceless ; and yet, in spite of this fact, 
or shall we say because of it, they knew no war for 
seventy years. ^'Whatever were the quarrels of the 
Pennsylvania Indians with others," says one of the 
Quaker historians, ''they respected and held, as it 
were, sacred the territories of the Quakers. The Penn 
colony never lost a man, woman, or child by, the 
Indians. The flowers of prosperity and good will 
smiled in the footprints of William Penn." 

I should like to see all the energy that is going 
into preparation for war express itself in ideals that 
we should be proud to cherish— that would make us 
ashamed of the sordidness which prevails at the 
present time. Work should be joyous. Everyone 
should go to his labour singing as Whitman hears 
America singing ''the varied carols," the mechanics 
singing blithe and strong— the vitality of America 
voiced in building for a race of free men and women. 
There is a passage in Whitman which expresses my 
desire for America with such sympathy I shall quote 
it here : 

This moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone, 
It seems to me there are other men in other lands, yearning and 
thoughtful ; 

It seems to me I can look over and behold them, in Germany, 
Italy, France, Spain— or far, far away, in China, or in 
Russia, or India— talking other dialects ; 


And it seems to me if I could know those men, I should become 

attached to them, as I do to men in my own lands; 
Oh, I know we should be brethren and lovers, 
I know I should be happy with them. 

I believe that we can live on earth according to the 
teachings of Jesus, and that the greatest happiness 
will come to the world when man obeys His com- 
mandment "Love ye one another." 

I believe that every question between man and 
man is a religious question, and that every social 
wrong is a moral wrong. 

I believe that we can live on earth according to the 
fulfilment of God's will, and that when the will of 
God is done on earth as it is done in heaven, every 
man will love his fellow men, and act towards them 
as he desires they should act towards him. I believe 
that the welfare of each is bound up in the welfare 
of all. 

I believe that life is given us so we may grow in 
love, and I believe that God is in me as the sun is in 
the colour and fragrance of a flower — the Light in 
my darkness, the Voice in my silence. 

I believe that only in broken gleams has the Sun 
of Truth yet shone upon men. I believe that love will 
finally establish the Kingdom of God on earth, and 
that the Cornerstones of that Kingdom will be 
Liberty, Truth, Brotherhood, and Service. 

I believe that no good shall be lost, and that all 


man has willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall 
exist forever. 

I believe in the immortality of the soul because I 
have v^ithin me immortal longings. I believe that the 
state v^e enter after death is wrought of our own 
motives, thoughts, and deeds. I believe that in the 
life to come I shall have the senses I have not had 
here, and that my home there will be beautiful with 
colour, music, and speech of flowers and faces I 

Without this faith there would be little meaning 
in my life. I should be ''a mere pillar of darkness in 
the dark." Observers in the full enjoyment of their 
bodily senses pity me, but it is because they do not 
see the golden chamber in my life where I dwell 
delighted ; for, dark as my path may seem to them, 
I carry a magic light in my heart. Faith, the spiritual 
strong searchlight, illumines the way, and although 
sinister doubts lurk in the shadow, I walk unafraid 
towards the Enchanted Wood where the foliage is 
always green, where joy abides, where nightingales 
nest and sing, and where life and death are one in the 
Presence of the Lord. 

Chapter XXI 


I HAVE already spoken of the memorable passage in 
Gibbon's Autobiography in which he says, 

Between the hours of eleven and twelve at night I wrote the 
last page of it {The Decline and Fall)^ in a small house in my 
garden. I laid down my pen and took several turns in a berceau, 
or covered walk of acacias, which overlooked the country, the 
lake, and the mountains. The night was calm, the sky was serene, 
and the silvery orb of the moon was reflected from the waters. 

He goes on to describe his mingled emotions of joy 
and pain, 

. . . my joy on the recovery of my freedom, and perhaps the 
establishment of my fame — and whatsoever may be the fate of my 
history, the life of the historian must be short and precarious. 

I have v^ritten the last line of the last auto- 
biography I shall write, in my little study, not in 
Lausanne but in Forest Hills. I lift my tired hands 
from the typewriter. I am free. There are no acacias 
in my garden, but there are spruce and firs and dog- 
woods. However, I am using the acacias symboli- 
cally. To me they represent the life path on which 



I have walked while the love of countless friends has 
shone upon me. I am conscious not only of those who 
walk the earth but also of those who dwell on the 
heaven side of life. My books, too, I like to think of 
as friends smiling upon mc along the winding path- 
way. It would require more genius than I have to 
paint in felicitous words even a small part of the 
multitudinously hued light that has given beauty 
and meaning to my life, but through the distance and 
darkness I fling those who have given it the best 
wishes of my heart and my gratitude. 

My autobiography is not a great work. Whatever 
value is in it is there not because I have any skill as 
a writer, nor because there are any thrilling in- 
cidents in it, but because God has dealt with me as 
with a son, and chastened me, and muffled His beams 
that He might lead men in the path of aid to the 
deaf and blind. He has made me the mouth of such 
as cannot speak, and my blindness others' sight, and 
let me be hands and feet to the maimed and the help- 
less. And because I could not do this alone, being 
imprisoned in a great darkness and silence, it was 
necessary that another should liberate me. That other 
is Anne Sullivan, my guardian angel. 

I have been frequently asked what I should do 
without her. I smile and answer cheerfully, ''God 
sent her, and if He takes her, His love will fill the 
void," but it terrifies me to face the thought that this 

question brings to my mind. I peer with a heavy 
heart into the years to come. Hope's face is veiled, 
troubling fears awake and bruise me as they wing 
through the dark. I lift a tremulous prayer to God, 
for I should be blind and deaf in very truth if she 
were gone away. 

The day that I hold the dearest of the year is the 
day she came to me. She was a young woman, alone. 
She had been blind from childhood, and her sight 
had just been partially restored. Everything before 
her was unfamiliar. She was fifteen hundred miles 
away from her friends in a strange little town that 
had been almost wrecked by the Civil War. With 
little equipment except an extraordinary mind and 
a brave heart, handicapped by imperfect vision, with 
only the training she had received from Dr. Howe's 
reports of his work with Laura Bridgman, without 
help or counsel or previous experience in teaching, 
she struggled with some of the most complicated 
problems in one of the most difficult of all fields of 

There were gaps and deficiencies in her own in- 
struction that she had the wisdom herself to see. 
Perhaps it was because of them that she brought so 
much freshness to her work. She was a delightful 
companion, entering into all my discoveries with the 
joy of a fellow explorer, and to this youthful inter- 
est she added a smiling tact and endless ingenuity in 


explaining what I did not understand. And in those 
days there was scarcely a thing in the world I did 
understand. Above all she loved me. 

The stimulating contacts of life that had been de- 
nied me she strove to supply. She was ever at hand 
to keep me in touch with the world of men and 
women, and did everything she could to develop ways 
by which I myself could communicate directly with 
them. During the four years I was in Radcliffe Col- 
lege, she sat beside me in the classroom and with 
her supple speaking hand spelled out the lectures to 
me word by word. In the same way she read many 
books to me in French, German, Latin, Greek- 
philosophy, history, literature, and economics— and 
she has continued to bring me day by day, through 
the years, the best thoughts of men and the news of 
their achievements. In spite of repeated warnings 
from oculists she has always abused her eyes for my 
sake. Now she is able to read only with the aid of a 
powerful lens which was prescribed for her by Dr. 
Conrad Berens, who has stood near while this book 
has been struggling into existence to keep the flicker- 
ing light in her eyes that she might spell the typed 
pages into my hand and thus direct the stream of my 
thought within the bounds of a conceived plan. 

I often wonder what my life would have been like 
if she had not come into it. I cannot picture anyone 
else in her place. There seems to me nothing acci- 


dental in the circumstances which made her my 
teacher. The conditions of her childhood were so 
harsh that from her earliest years she had to take 
thought of life or perish. Wellington said that the 
battle of Waterloo was won on the cricket fields of 
England. So I say my education was accomplished 
in the tragedy of my teacher's life. She understood 
the void in my soul because her childhood had been 
so empty of joy. It is when I think of how often I 
have disappointed her with work I have done ill that 
I cannot imagine what she saw in me that has kept her 
at my side all these years. 

She could have lived her own life, and had a bet- 
ter chance of happiness than most women. Her 
power of clear, audacious thought and the splendour 
of her unselfish soul might have made her a leader 
among the women of her day. The freshness and 
lucidity of her writing would have won distinction. 
But she has closed these doors to herself and refused 
to consider anything that would take her away from 
me. She delights in the silence that wraps her life 
in mine, and says that the story of her teaching is the 
story of her life, her work is her biography. She has 
given me the best years of her womanhood, and she 
is still giving herself to me day by day. She has done 
much for me that cannot be defined or explained. 
By the vitalizing power of her friendship she has 
stirred and enlarged my faculties. She has made my 


good impulses more fruitful, my will to serve others 
stronger. Slowly, slowly, out of my weakness and 
helplessness she has built up my life. No one knows 
better than she and I how that life falls short of what 
we should like to make it. But, such as it is, she has 
built it. 

Out of the orb of darkness she led me into golden 
hours and regions of beauteous thought, bright-spun 
of love and dreams. Thought-buds opened softly in 
the walled garden of my mind. Love flowered sweetly 
in my heart. Spring sang joyously in all the silent, 
hidden nooks of childhood, and the dark night of 
blindness shone with the glory of stars unseen. As 
she opened the locked gates of my being my heart 
leapt with gladness and my feet felt the thrill of the 
chanting sea. Happiness flooded my being as the sun 
overflows the earth, and I stretched out my hands in 
quest of life. 




Addison, Joseph, 9. 

Adult blind. See Blind. 

Aguinaldo, Emilio, 49. 

Akiba, Mr., 278. 

Alabama, 36, 330. 

Albee, Edward F,, 213. 

Alexander, William, 4. 

Allen, Mr. Edward, 231. 

Alphabet. See Manual. 

American Association for Promoting 
the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, 
I H.- 
American Association of Workers for 
the Blind, 224. 

American Foundation for the Blind, 
organized, 224; Helen Keller begins 
work for, 224-225; offers unique 
service to, 230; aim of, 232; cam- 
paign for, 232, fF.; bulletins of, em- 
bossed for Helen Keller, 263; re- 
ceives help from Mrs. Thaw, 269, 
from Jedediah Tingle, 277; Edwin 
Grasse plays for, 285. 

American Mercury, 262. 

Anagnos, Michael, 73, 107, 253. 
Animals: deer, 43-44; dogs, 18-19, 

37-40; horses, 188, 207-208. 
Atlantic Monthly, 262. 
Autobiography, Gibbon's, 191-192. 
Autobiography, Helen Keller's, man- 
ner of writing, 1-4; estimate of, 

Bacon, Francis, 58, 316, 318-319. 
Baer, Dr. John Willis, 240. 
Barron, C. W., 271. 
Bartlett, Professor, 16. 
Begley, 318. 

Bell, Alexander Graham, Helen Kel- 
ler's love for, 47; consulted concern- 
ing school for deaf-blind, 71 ; right to 
a say in shaping Helen Keller's Hfe, 
74; urges Helen Keller to help deaf, 
81, 132-133; introduces Helen 
Keller's lecture, 107; comments on 
Miss Sullivan's methods in teaching 


Helen Keller, 108; grandfather's 
invention to overcome stammering, 
108; Melville Bell's (q.v.) visible 
speech system, 109; visits Mdville 
Bell, 109-111; Helen Keller visits 
in Washington and Cape Breton, 
III, fF.; Helen Keller on platform 
with, 112-113; inventor of tele- 
phone, 107, 109, 1 16-120, 121-123, 
132; work for deaf, 107, io8, 109, 
113-115, ii7» 132-133; talk with 
Helen Keller on marriage, 133-135; 
Helen Keller sees for last time, 135- 
137; death of, 137-138- See also Bell, 
Mrs. Alexander Graham; Bell, Elsie; 
Bell, Daisy; Bell, Melville; Bell, Mrs. 
Melville; Watson, Thomas A.; Deaf. 
Motion picture. 
Bell, Mrs. Alexander Graham, iii, 

Bell, Daisy, iii, 129. See also Fair- 
child, Mrs. 

Bell, Elsie, iii, 129. See also Grosvenor 
Gilbert, Mrs. 

Bell, Melville, 108-111. 

Bell, Mrs. Melville, iio-iii. 

Berens, Conrad, 345. 

Bergson, Henri, 22. 

Bible, 313, 325. 

Birth control, 331-332. 

Bittman, Ian, 43, 177-178. 

Blackstone's Commentaries, 245. 

Blake, William, 325. 

Blind, absurdities about, 79, 153; 
adult, 75776, 78, 87, 225 fF., 229, 234, 
241; attitude of seeing towards, 
225-230; books for, 78, 227-228, 
324-325; Carmen Sylva's plan for 
city of, 74; Lighthouse for the, loi- 
102; magazines for, 80, 263 ; National 
Institution for, in Paris, 77; printing 
for, 76-78, 81. See also American 
Foundation for the Blind, HelenKeller, 
Massachusetts School and Perkins In- 
stitution for the Blind, Massachusetts 
State Commission for the Blind, Deaf- 


blind, and individual blind, Braille, 
Louis; Campbell, Sir Francis; Gar- 
rett, Elizabeth; Grasse, Edwin; Haito- 
viich, Abraham; Hayes, Lydia; 
Irvin, Robert; Schall, Thomas. 

Blind-deaf. See Deaf-blind. 

Blindness, Mark Twain's opinion of, 
48; prevention of in children, 79-80, 
231; compared with deafness, 82, 

Blindenwesen, 81. 

Bok, Edward, 4, 5, 80, 236. 

Bond, Carrie Jacobs, 240. 

Books for blind. See Blind. 

Booth, William Stone, 58, 318. 

Borah, Senator, 235. 

Boston Conservatory of Music, 88. 

Braille, books in at college, 8-9; at 
Wrentham, 28, 34; invention of, 
77-78; dictionaries in, 84; note from 
lover in, 180; letters from Mrs. 
Macy in, 182; mother's difficulty 
with, 218; ease with which it can be 
learned, 228; M. Galeron and, 249; 
Madame Galeron's poems in, 250; 
magazines in, 263; letters in, 263; 
tablet, 264; Countee CuUen's poems 
in, 278; Mr. Hitz puts books into, 
for Helen Keller, 318; Conrad in, 
321, 323; in England, 324-325; 
cost of books, 325. 

Braille, Louis, 77. 

Brashear, John, 269. 

Brastow, Dr., 41. 

Bridget. See Crimmins, Bridget. 

Bridgman, Laura, 244'-246, 344. 

Brieux, Eugene, 319, 320. 

Briggs, Dean, 15-16, 25. 

Briggs, W. O., 236. 

Brooklyn Bridge, 2, 295. 

Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 18, 135. 

Browning, Robert, 9, 137, 143, 326. 

Burbank, Luther, 240. 

Burns, Robert, 142-143, 326. 

Burroughs, John, 275, 316. 

Cabot, Dr. Richard, 275. 

California, 159-164, 166, 238, 265. 

Campbell, Charles F. F., 75-76, 80- 

81, 236. 
Campbell, Sir Francis, 75. 
Canada, 158. 
Canadian Rockies, 162. 
Candida, 324. 

Capital, 330. 
Carmen Sylva, 74. 

Carnegie, Andrew, 74, 139-141, 146- 

147, 169, 290. 
Carnegie, Margaret, 140. 
Carnegie, Mrs. Andrew, 140. 
Carlyle, Thomas, 143. 
Carolinas, The, 330. 
Caruso, Enrico, 285. 
Casting Away of Mrs. Leeks and Mrs. 

Aleshine, The, 281. 
Cather, Willa, 323. 
Catullus, 9. 
Cenci, The, 318 

Century Magazine, Essays in, 34. 
Cervantes, 51. 
Chahapin, 285. 
Chance, 323. 
Chaplin, Charlie, 194. 
Chatauqua anti-preparedness tour, 
171-173, 175, 176; second tour, 177. 
Chesterton, G. K., 321. 
Chesterton, Mrs. G. K., 321. 
Child labour, 330, 331, 332. 
Children, 284. 
Clemenceau, Georges, 206. 
Clemens, Clara, 55. 
Clemens, Mrs. Samuel, 50-51. 
Clemens, Samuel L. See Mark Twain. 
Clemens, Susie, 50. 
Cleveland, President, 125. 
Cloud, The, 326. 
Coe, Mrs., 288. 
College. See Radcliffe College. 
Colum, Padraic, 327. 
Compass. See Holmes, Edward L. 
Conrad, Joseph, 287, 321-323. 
Conservator, The, 315. 
Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 17. 
Coolidge, Mrs., 235. 
Coolidge, President, 235. 
Copeland, Charles Townsend, 4, 16. 
Cowl, Jane, 285. 
Crimmins, Bridget, 19, 21-22. 
Crisp, Donald, 239. 
CuUen, Countee, 278. 

Daniel Deronda, 2S1. 
Dans Ma Nuit, 248. 
Darky, 39. 

Darwin, Charles, 118. 
Dawn, Sylvia, 190. 

Deaf, American Association for Pro- 
moting the Teaching of Speech to 
the, 114; Dr. Bell and Dr, James 


Kerr Love urge Helen Keller to 
help, 81-82; teaching speech to, 
90 fF., 107; education of, 108, 113- 
iiS, 132; Horace Mann School, 90; 
Rochester School, 237. 
Deaf-bhnd, school planned for, with 
Helen Keller in charge, 71-72; 
Helen Keller speaks in behalf of, at 
St. Louis Exposition, 82-83; edu- 
cation of, 253-255; capacities of, 
255-261. See also Bridgman, Laura; 
Galeron, Madame; Martin, Helen; 
Pearce, Theodosia; McGirr, Katie; 
Schulz, Helen; Stringer, Tommy. 
See also Mack, Rebecca, and Sense 
Deafness, more of an impediment than 

blindness, 82, 248. 
Debs, Eugene, 275-276, 336. 
Decline and Fall, The. See History of 
the Decline and Fall of the Roman 
Empire, The. 
Deer, 43-44. 

Deliverance," 187. 
Descartes, 12. 

Detroit League for the Handicapped, 

Diderot, 81. 
Dilley, Mr., 38. 

Divine Love and Wisdom, The, 3 14. 
Dogs, 18-19. 
" Dog's Life, A," 194. 
Doubleday, Frank Nelson, 269-270, 

Doubleday, Russell, 270. 
Dryden, John, 9, 121. 
Dunne, Peter Finlay, 48, 54. 
Dunsany, Lord, 327. 

Edison, Thomas A., 290-291. 

Edward, King, 144. 

Effendi. See Doubleday, Frank Nelson. 

Elegy Written in a Country Church- 
yard, 143. 

Eliot, Charles W., 16. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 13, 15, 314. 

Encyclopedia of Education, 81. 

Everybody's Magazine, 289. 

Eve's Diary, Mark Twain reads from, 

Exploring Life, no. 

Fairbanks, Douglas, 237-239. 
Fairchild, Mrs., 123. See also Bell, 


Fay, Dr., 114. 

Father Brown, 321. 

Fifth Avenue, 164-165. 

Fisher Brothers, 236. 

Fitzgerald, Edward, 261. 

Ford, Edsel, 236, 293. 

Ford, Mrs. Edsel, 236. 

Ford, Henry, 291-294. 

Forest Hills, 186, 209, 278, 283, 284, 


Forsyte, Saga, The, 325. 

Foundation for the Blind, American. 

See American Foundation fox the 

France, Anatole, 319. 
Francis, David Rowland, 82. 
Friendly Town, The, 318. 
Fuld, Mrs. Felix, 241. 
Fuller, Lucy Derby, 140. 
Fuller, Sarah, 90, 91, 92. 
Funston, Colonel, 49. 
Furness, H. H., 318. 

Gabrilowitsch, 285. 
Galeron, Monsieur, 248-249, 
Galeron, Mme. Berthe, 247-249, 254- 

Gallaudet College, 114. 

Galsworthy, John, 325. 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 282. 

Garfield, President, 122. 

Garrett, EHzabeth, 278-281, 305. 

Garrett, Pat, 278. 

Georgia, 330. 

Gibbon, Edward, 191, 342, 

Gilder, Richard Watson, 34. 

Gilman sqhool, 7, 265. 

Godowsky, Leopold, 286. 

Golden Treasury, The, 325-326. 

Goldman, Harry, 241. 

Goldsmith, OHver, 9. 

Gladstone, William Ewart, 142. 

Gray, Thomas, 143. 

Grasse, Edwin, 285. 

Graselli, 241. 

Greenwood, 318. 

Grosvenor, Gilbert, 235. 

Grosvenor, Mrs. Gilbert, 235. See also 

Bell, Elsie. 
Growth of the Soil, 323. 

Haitovitch, Abraham, 285. 
Hale, Edward Everett, 32, 35. 
Hamsun, Knut, 323. 
Hans, 39. 



Happiness, lecture on, 141, 145-146. 

Hardy, Thomas, 319, 323. 

Harmon, William. See Jedediah Tingle. 

Harper's, 262. 

Howard University, 6, 20. 

Haiiy, Valentin, 77. 

Hay, daughter of John, 235. See 

Wadsworth, Mrs. 
Hayes, Charles, 238. 
Hayes, Lydia, 251. 
Hearn, Lafcadio, 244. 
Heifetz, 286. 
Heinrich, Max, 271-273. 
Henry IF, 9. 
Henry F, 9. 

Hicks, Mrs. Frederick, 235. 

Hirsch, Betty, 278. 

History of the Decline and Fall of the 

Roman Empire, 192, 342. 
Hitz, John, 28, 34, 173, 271, 276-277, 


Hofheimer Foundation, Nathan. See 

Nathan Hofheimer Foundation. 
Hollywood, 187, 

Holmes, Edward L., 265-267, 296. 
Holmes Master Compass and Position 

Indicator, 267. 
Holmes, Walter, 80, 252. 
Holt. See Mather, Winifred Holt. 
Homer, 119. 
Horace, 121. 
Horses, 188, 207-208. 
Howe, Samuel Gridley, 73, 77, 84, 244, 


Howells, William Dean, 55, 275. 
Huckleberry Finn, 318. 
Hutton, Lawrence, 47-48, 103. 
Hutton, Mrs. Lawrence, 71-72, 288. 
Hyde, Douglas, 327. 

/ Stood Tip-toe on a Little Hill, 326. 

In Memoriam, 132. 

Industrial life, 330-331. 

Industry, 287-288. 

Inferno, Dante's, 5. 

Ingersoll, Robert, 145. 

Intercourse Between the Soul and the 

Body, 314. 
Iphigenia, 281. 
Irvin, Robert, 228. 
Irving, Sir Henry, 284-285. 
Is Shakespeare Dead ?, 58. 

James, William, 316-317. 
Jastrow, 28. 

Jaures, 336, 

Jedediah Tingle (William Harmon), 

Jefferson, Joseph, 285. 
Joan of Arc, 10, 207. 
Johns Hopkins Medical School, 231. 
Johnson, 9. 
Jonquil, 125. 

Jordan Marsh department store, 185. 

Joy, Mr., 236. 

Joy, Mrs., 236. 

Jude, The Obscure, 147. 

Julius Ccesar, 132. 

Kahn, Otto, 234. 

Kaiser, 37. 

Kant, 13-15. 

Keats, 9, 325-326. 

Keller, Brooks, 309. 

Keller, Captain, 218. 

Keller, Helen, begins autobiography 
and describes manner of composi- 
tion, 1-4; tells of difficulties with 
The Story of My Life, 4-6; meets 
John Macy, 6; difficulties at Rad- 
clifFe College, 7-9; studies at Rad- 
clifFe, 9-15; contact with professors, 
15-18; contact with classmates, 
18-20; with students at Harvard, 
20-21; happy memories of college 
days, 21-24; graduation, 24-26; 
moves to Wrentham, 26; describes 
house, 27-28; describes balcony on 
which she "heard" the whippoor- 
will, 29-30; appreciates Mr. Spauld- 
ing's help, 30-32; joyfully witnesses 
teacher's wedding with John Macy, 
32-33; describes teacher, 33; de- 
scribes John Macy, 33-34; writes 
The World I Live In, 34; writes 
The Song of the Stone Wall, 35; 
appreciates Mr. Macy's help, 35- 
36; tells of pets at Wrentham, 36; 
describes walk, 45; summarizes 
happiness of the Wrentham days, 
46; meets Mark Twain, 47-48; meets 
Peter Finlay Dunne, 48; listens to 
Mark Twain's denunciation of 
Philippine atrocities, 48-49; speaks 
of Mark Twain's cynicism, 49-50; 
of his love for his wife, 50-51; of 
his place in literature, 51-52; of his 
appreciation of The World I Live In; 
of his invitation to her and the 
Macys to come to Stormfield, 53; 



describes the visit, 52-66, 68; speaks 
of Mark Twain's attitude towards 
her, 66, 69; difficulties in choosing 
a life work, 70; friend's plan for 
school for deaf-blind, 70-72; other 
plans, 72; Mr. Anagnos' plan, 73; 
Queen of Roumania's plan, 73-74; 
attitude of closest friends, 74-75; 
Mr. Charles F. F. Campbell inter- 
ests in work for blind, 75; begins 
seriously to study problems of blind- 
ness, 76; writes article for Kansas 
City Star, 80; writes series of articles 
for Ladies^ Home Journal, 80; writes 
an article on blind for an Encyclo- 
edia of Education, 81; requests to 
elp blind multiply, 81; urged by 
Dr. Bell and Dr. James Kerr Love 
to help deaf, 81-82; visits St. Louis 
Exposition, 82-83; hemmed in by 
obstacles, 83-85; visited by Ma- 
dame Nordin, 85-86; tries to barri- 
cade herself into privacy, 86; joins 
Massachusetts Commission for the 
Blind, 86-87; difficulties in keeping 
up with commission, 87-88; resigns 
from commission, 88; determines to 
learn to speak better, 88-89; de- 
scribes work with Miss Sarah 
Fuller, 90-91; at Wright-Humason 
School, 92; Miss SuUi van's work 
with speech, 92-93; Mr. White 
begins work on, 937-96; first appear- 
ance in Montclair, New Jersey, 
96-98; begins lecturing, 99 ff.; is 
present at opening of New York 
Lighthouse for Blind, 101-102; is 
present at Wilson's' inauguration, 
103; gives impression of Wilson, 
103-106; introduced to lecture 
audience by Dr. Bell, 107; speaks 
of Dr. Bell's enthusiasm concerning 
Mrs. Macy's method of teaching, 
108; describes Dr. Bell and his 
father, 109-110; brings flowers to 
Mr. and Mrs. Melville Bell, iio- 
iii; speaks of Mrs. Alexander 
Graham Bell, iii; present at 
gatherings at Dr. Bell's home, 112; 
with Dr. Bell on platform, 112-113; 
becomes aware of telephone, 117; 
pleasant times with Dr. Bell in 
Boston, 117-121; receives letters 
from Dr. Bell, 123; receives com- 
ment from Dr. Bell on The World I 

Live In, 123; on The Song of the 
Stone Wall, 124; receives "a secret" 
from Dr. Bell, 124; speaks of visit 
to President Cleveland, 125; visits 
"zoo" with Dr. Bell, 125; visits 
Pittsburgh with Dr. Bell, 126-127; 
visits Dr. Bell in Nova Scotia, 127; 
helps Dr. Bell with kites, 128; 
listens to scientific conversations, 
128-129; spends night on house- 
boat, 129-13 1 ; talks of stars with 
Dr. Bell and Prof. Newcomb, 130- 
131; talks with Dr. Bell of marriage, 
133-135; last sight of Dr. Bell, 135- 
137; refuses Carnegie's annuity, 
140; calls upon Carnegie, 140-146; 
continues lecture tour, 146; sur- 
renders to necessity of taking an- 
nuity, 146-147; goes through tense 
suffering when John Macy leaves, 
147; stays constantly on road 
lecturing, 149; describes sensations 
in travelling, 149-151; attitude 
towards social functions, 151-153; 
attitude of newspapers towards, 
153; jumble of experiences in travel- 
ling, 154-155; visits schools for 
blind or deaf, 155; visits invaHds, 
156; receives new idea of the struc- 
ture of civilization, 156-158; starts 
on first tour across continent, 158; 
reception in California, 159-160; 
in the Muir woods, 161-162; de- 
scribes San Francisco, 162-164; 
speaks of odours, 164-166; subse- 
quent tours, 166-168; Polly Thom- 
son becomes secretary of, 169; 
appreciation of Polly Thomson, 169; 
overwhelmed by World War, 170- 
171; undertakes anti-preparedness 
Chautauqua tour, 171; attitude of 
audiences, 172; of press, 172-173; 
visit to President Roosevelt, 173- 
175; wishes concerning war, 175- 
176; depression, 176; love affair, 
176-182; receives letters from 
teacher who is in Porto Rico, 182; 
gives up place at Wrentham, 183- 
185; makes home in Forest Hills, 
186; receives letter concerning 
motion picture of her life, 186; goes 
to Hollywood, 187; begins picture, 
188; difficulties in posing, 189-190; 
substitutes for, in early scenes, 190- 
191; presents friends, 191-193; 



visits with Charlie Chaplin, 194- 
195; Knowledge and Ignorance 
contend for spirit of, 195-196; goes 
out to hillside for part of picture, 
197-198; with Ulysses, 198-199; 
flight in an aeroplane, 199-2CX); 
visits shipyards, 200-201; as Mother 
of Sorrows, 201-206; interviews Big 
Four, 206-207; as a sort of Joan of 
Arc, 207-208; enters vaudeville, 
209; friends of protest against 
vaudeville, 209; finds vaudeville 
deHghtful, 210-21 1 ; difficulties on 
lecture tours, 21 1-2 12; Hkes man- 
agement of vaudeville under Mr. 
Albee, 213-214; likes vaudeville 
audiences, 214-215; mother's death, 
216; happiness of mother on ac- 
count of, in early days, 216-217; 
suffering because of, 217-218; de- 
scribes mother on farm, 218-220; 
talks with mother about books, 
220-221; spends summer with, at 
Lake St. Catherine, 221; receives 
word of mother's death, 222-223; 
invited to lecture for the American 
Foundation for the BHnd, 224; 
invokes reader's attention to blind, 
225 ff.; start's Foundation cam- 
paign, 232; chooses Dr. van Dyke 
as national chairman, 233; goes to 
Washington, 234; visits Coolidge, 
234-235; visits Detroit, 236; visits 
Buffalo, 237; visits Rochester, 237; 
writes to stars in filmland, 237; re- 
ceives answer from Mary Pickford, 
237; visits Mary Pickford, 238-240; 
visits Carrie Jacobs Bond, 240; 
visits Luther Burbank, 240; stops 
campaign" to write autobiography, 
240-241; happiness over gift to 
Foundation fund, 241-242; attitude 
towards deprivations, 243-245; re- 
membrance of Laura Bridgman 

245- 246; compares self with Laura, 

246- 247; compares self with Ma- 
dame Berthe Galeron, 248; speaks 
of other deaf-blind, 250-253; of 
Rebecca Mack's work for, 253; sug- 
gestions for welfare of, 253-254; 
capacities of, 255; subjected to 
tests, 255-260; feeling towards 
denials of limitation, 260-261; 
varied contacts, 262; magazines, 
262-263; goes on imaginary trip 

around world with Edna Porter, 
264-265; keeps in touch with 
science through Edward L. Holmes, 
265; with callers, 268; friends who 
have enriched life, 268; Mrs. Wil- 
liam Thaw, 268; Frank Nelson 
Doubleday, 269-270; Russell 
Doubleday, 270-271; Swedenbor- 
gian friends, 271; Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles White, 271 ; Max Heinrich, 
271-273; the Maeterlincks, 273; 
Signora Montessori, 273-274; Mar- 
garet Macmillan, 274; Judge Lind- 
sey, 274-275; friends through corre- 
spondence, 275; Eugene Debs, 275; 
Robert M. La Follette, 276-277; 
William Harmon, 277; visitors to 
Forest Hills, 278; Ehzabeth Garrett, 
278-281; Nina Rhoades, 281; Sir 
Arthur Pearson, 281; Rabindranath 
Tagore, 281-282; Art Young, 283; 
Mr. Watson, 282-284; enjoyment 
of performances of actors, especially 
Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving, 
Joseph Jefferson, David Warfield, 
and Jane Cowl, 284-285; enjoyment 
of rnusicians, especially Caruso, 
Chaliapin, Gabril6witsch, Haito- 
vitch, and Grasse, 285; of Heifetz, 
285-286; of Godowsky, 286; of the 
radio, 287; attitude towards jazz, 
287; contacts of court of industry: 
with Mr. Spaulding {q.v.), 288; Mr. 
H. H. Rogers {q.v.), 288-289; with 
Mr. Carnegie {q.v.), 290; with Mr. 
Edison, 290-291; with Mr. Ford, 
291-294; visits to New York, 295- 
300; enjoyment of garden, 300-309; 
enjoyment of camping trip, 309- 
311; enjoyment of woods, 31 1-3 12; 
enjoyment of books, 313 ff. especi-, 
ally the Bible, 313, Swedenborg's, 
313; Whitman's, 315, {q.v., and also 
Horace 7>i2w^^/),Thoreau's,3 i6,John 
Burroughs', 316; WiUiam James', 
316-317; John Macy's counsel con- 
cerning, 317, 319; on Shakespeare- 
Bacon controversy, 318-319; H. G. 
Wells', 319; Brieux's,3i9-32o; Ches- 
terton's, 321; modern, by contrast 
with her own attitude of mind, 321; 
Conrad's, 321-323; elemental, 323; 
Hardy's, 323-324; Shaw's, 324; 
Paul de Kruif's, 324; special, made 
in England, 324-325; in braille. 


325; of poetry, 325-328; attitude 
towards industrial system, 330; 
towards child labour, 330-331, 332; 
towards birth control, 331-332; 
towards America, 332-333; towards 
complexity of her own ego, 333-334; 
towards Russia, 334-335; towards 
youth, 3 3 5-3 36; towards millennium, 
336; towards peace, 337-339; phi- 
losophy of life, 3 39-341 ; emotions on 
finishing autobiography, compared 
with those of Gibbon on finishing 
The Decline and Fall, 342; tribute 
to Guardian Angel, Anne Sullivan, 

Keller, Kate Adams (Helen Keller's 
mother), unable to be present at 
Helen's graduation, 25; right to a 
say in shaping Helen's life, 74; 
accompanies Helen on her firstt our 
across continent, 158 ff.; place taken 
by Polly Thomson on second tour, 
169; comes to Wrentham, 177; 
asks Helen about lover, 180; takes 
Helen to Montgomery, 181; comes 
to California for picture, 199; death 
of, and Helen Keller's tribute, 216. 

Keller, Katherine, 309. 

Keller, Mildred. See Tyson, Mildred. 

Keller, Phillips, 218, 309. 

Keller, Ravia, 309. 

Kellerman, Annette, 153. 

Kelvin, Lord, 117. 

Kent, William, 161-162. 

Kindergarten for the Blind, 253. 

King, 43. 

Kinney, Lenore. See Smith, Lenore 

Kipling, 51, 106. 
Kropotkin, 319. 
Kruif, Paul de, 324. 

Labour. See Child Labour. 
Ladies' Home Journal, 4, 5, 6, 80. 
La Follette, Robert M., Jr., 277. 
La Follette, Robert M., Sr., 276- 

Langley, Prof., 112, 128. 
Lanier, Sidney, 326. 
Lansing, Robert, 235. 
Lathbury, Clarence, 271. 
Latimer, H. Randolph, 224. 
Lawson, Thomas, 289. 
Le Blanc, Georgette, 273. 
If^aves of Grass, 3 14-315. 

Lectures by Helen Keller: early, 99- 
loi; in behalf of the Lighthouse, 
loi; in Washington, 107; in Rich- 
mond, 139; commented upon by 
Carnegie, 141, 146; in Maine, 146; 
tour across America, 149 fF.; second 
tour, 169 ff.; difficulties over, 211- 
212; on behalf of the American Foun- 
dation for the Blind, 224-225; in 
Detroit, 236; in Buffalo, 237; in 
Rochester, 237; discontinued, 240- 
241; in Northampton, 319; in towns 
where capital and labour were in 
conflict, 330. 

Lenin, 334, 335, 336. 

Lewis, F. Park, 79. 

Lewis, Sinclair, 321. 

Liebfreed, Edwin, 196-197. 

Liebknecht, Wilhelm, 336. 

Life and Letters of Joseph Conrad, 323. 

Life on the Mississippi, 52. 

Lighthouse for the Blind, 101-102. 

Lights from Little Lanterns, 251. 

Lincoln, Abraham, 22. 

Lindbergh, 122. 

Lindsey, Judge, 274-275. 

Lions International, 231, 325. 

Lip reading, when Mark Twain read 
Eve's Diary, 65, 66; Helen Keller 
demonstrates, 99; Mrs. Bell's skill 
at, in; advocated by Dr. Bell, 
1 1 3-1 14; when callers are present, 

Livy, 9. 

Lloyd-George, David, 206. 

Lord, Bradford, 242. 

Lorm, 84. 

Los Angeles, 159. 

Love, James Kerr, 81, 278. 

Lucas, E. v., 318. ^ 

Lyde, Elsie Leslie, 30-31. 

Lyon, Miss, 53, 55, 59-60, 63-64. 

Lyon, Mrs. Edmund, 237. 

Macbeth, 155. 

Mack, Rebecca, 251, 253. 

Macmillan, Margaret, 274. 

Macy, Anne Sullivan, at Gilman 
school, 7-8; reads to Helen Keller at 
college, 8-9; visits Dr. Neilson, 16; 
conveys feeling of Prof. Copeland's 
voice to Helen Keller, 16; speaks to 
Prof. Coolidge, 17; spells classmates' 
chatter to Helen; gets Lenore to 
substitute for her, 20; at Helen's 



graduation, 24-26; prepares house 
at Wrentham, 27-29; tells Helen 
about whippoorwill, 29-30; assisted 
financially by Mr. John Spaulding, 
31; marries John Macy, 32-33; 
described by Helen Keller, 33; 
waits for Nimrod, 39; watches the 
deer in the apple orchard, 43-44; 
compared with Mark Twain, 47; 
meets Mark Twain, 47; appreci- 
ated _ by Mark Twain, 50; Mark 
Twain watches her spell to, 57; 
referred to by Mark Twain as 
Guardian Angel, 59; walks with 
Mark Twain, 62; spells Eve's Diary 
into Helen's, hands, 64, 65; becomes 
exhausted over plan for school for 
deaf and blind, 70-71; interference 
with, 72; reproached for leaving 
Perkins Institution, 73; right to 
manage Helen, 74; at St. Louis 
Exposition, 82-83; breaks down, 83; 
household difficulties, 84-85, 86; 
on Massachusetts Commission for 
the Blind, 87-88; takes Helen to 
Miss Sarah Fuller for lessons in 
articulation, 90; helps Helen with 
articulation, 92-93, 98; begins 
lectures, 99; interests audience in 
story of Helen, loo-ioi; describes 
Wilson's inauguration, 103; sent to 
Helen by Dr. Bell, 107; commended 
by Dr. Bell, 108; speaks of Dr. 
Bell's and his father's enunciation, 
no; visits Dr. Bell, iio-iii; gets 
wedding present from Dr. Bell, 124- 
125; describes Pittsburgh, 126-127; 
visits Beinn Breagh, 127; on the 
houseboat, 129-13 1; with Mrs. Bell, 
131-132; Dr. Bell speaks of mar- 
riage, 134-135; tired from lectures, 
139; not well, 146, 147; spells 
description of California, 159; an- 
swers Roosevelt's questions about 
Helen Keller, 173; shows Roosevelt 
how Helen Keller reads lips, 174; 
ill, 177, 178, I79» 180, 181; goes to 
Porto Rico, 182; moves to Forest 
Hills, 186; dream in motion picture, 
197; protests against Helen Keller's 
going up in aeroplane, 199; Helen 
Keller concerned about future, 
209; in vaudeville, 210; speaks of 
Mrs. Keller, 219; lectures for Amer- 
ican Foundation for the Blind, 224; 

calls upon Coolidge, 234-235; visit 
to Rochester School for the Deaf, 
237; visits Mary Pickford, 238-239; 
with Laura Bridgman, 245-247; 
compared with M. Galeron, 248; 
inspires Miss Hayes, 251; reads 
current news to Helen Keller, 262; 
interprets callers to Helen, 268; 
with Signora Montessori, 273-274; 
influences Margaret Macmillan, 
274; with Art Young, 283; visits 
H. H. Rogers, 288; with Edison, 
291; with Helen Keller on trip 
around Manhattan Island, 296; goes 
camping, 309-311; William James 
visits, 316; as Helen Keller's 
Guardian Angel, 343-347. 
Macy, John, comes to Helen Keller's 
rescue in connection with The Story 
of My Life, 6; marries Miss Sullivan, 

32- 33; described by Helen Keller, 

33- 34; helps with composition of 
The World I Live In and The Song 
of the Stone Wall, 34-35; in woods 
around Wrentham, 36; friend of, 
presents Kaiser, 37; brings Nimrod, 
39-44; drives whitefoot, 42; takes 
great interest in Wrentham place, 
45; visits Mark Twain, 52 IF.; reads 
German and French books to Helen 
Keller, 81; impossible to read all 
needed, 84; goes to Boston every 
morning, 84; at Woodrow Wilson's 
inauguration, 103; receives letter 
from Dr. Bell, 108; Miss Sullivan 
tells Dr. Bell of her engagement to, 
135; wearies of struggle, 147-148; 
Wrentham without, 177; describes 
Art Young's cartoons to Helen 
Keller, 283; counsels Helen Keller 
with regard to books, 317-319. 

McGirr, Katie, 252. 

Maeterlinck, Maurice, 273. 

Maeterlinck, Mme. (Georgette Le 
Blanc), 273. 

Magazines for blind, 80, 280. 

Manual, alphabet, 8, 93-94, in, 114. 

Mark Twain, contacts with Helen 
Keller, 47; first meeting with Helen 
Keller, 47-48; denunciation of 
Philippine atrocities, 48-49; cyni- 
cism, 49; speaks of his wife, 50-51; 
a great American in Helen Keller's 
opinion, 5 1-52; invites Helen Keller, 
Mr. and Mrs. Macy to Stormfield, 



52-69; speaks against special school 
for deaf-blind, 71-72; Wilson's 
attitude towards his denunciation 
of American soldiers in the Philip- 
pines, 103-104; represented in 
Helen Keller's motion picture, 193; 
opinion of fools, 198; calls on Hut- 
tons with H. H. Rogers, 288; 
opinion of H. H. Rogers, 289; 
Connecticut Yankee quoted, 302. 

Martin, Helen, 251, 

Marx, Karl, 22, 319, 325. 

Masefield, John, 327-328. 

Mason, Ann, 190. 

Massachusetts, 330. 

Massachusetts School and Perkins 
Institution for the Blind, 30-31, 
73, 75* 77, 84, 125, 231, 245, 254, 

Massachusetts State Commission for 

the BHnd, 76, 87, 88, 263. 
Masters, Edgar Lee, 323. 
Mather, Samuel, 241. 
Mather, Winifred Holt, 101-IQ2, 174. 
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind, 

241, 252, 280, 
Meckstroth, Bertha, 18. 
Mell, Alexander, 81. 
Mencken, Henry L., 321. 
Microbe Hunters, 324. 
Migel, M. C, 224, 228, 241. 
Miller, Francis Trevelyan, 186. 
Milton, John, 142, 226. 
Montessori, Signora, 273-274. 
Morley, John, 270. 
Morrow, A,, 79. 

Motion picture, Helen Keller's, 186- 
208; Charlie Chaplin's, 194; Mary 
Pickford's, 237-240. See also De- 

Muir woods, 161. 

My Antonia, 323. 

My Religion, 313. 

Nathan Hofheimer Foundation, 241. 
Nathan the Wise, 281. 
Nation, 262. 

National Committee for the Pre- 
vention of Blindness, 79-80, 230. 

National Library for the Blind, 234. 

National Society for the Prevention 
of Blindness, 230. 

National Vaudeville Association, 213. 

Nebraska School for the Blind, 251. 

Neilson, William Allan, 16. 

Nelson, Colonel, 80 
New Jersey, 330. 

New Jersey Commission for the Blind, 

New Jerusalem Church, 271. 
New York, 164-165. 
New York Point, 281. 
New Worlds for Old, 3 19. 
Newcomb, Professor, 112, 130-131. 
Newspapers, 153, 172-173. 
Nietzsche, 22. 
Nimrod, 39-41. 

Nordin, Elizabeth, visit to Helen 

Keller, 85. 
North, Dr., 79. 

Odour. See Smell, Sense of. 
Omar Khayyam, 194. 
O'Neill, Eugene, 321. 
Open Road, The, 168, 318. 
Opium, 282. 

Ophthalmia neonatorum, 79, 230. 
Optimism, 15. 
Origin of Species, The, 118. 
Orpheum Circuit, 209. 
Othello, 9. 

Out of the Dark, 141. 

Outlook for the Blind, The, 81. 

Oxford Dictionary, 109. 

Paget, Sir Richard, 278. 
Paine, Albert Bigelow, 54. 
Palgrave, 325. 

Pan-American Exposition, 273. 

Peace, 333-334, 337-339- 

Pearce, Theodosia, 250. 

Pearson, Sir Arthur, 281, 324. 

Pedro, Dom, Emperor of Brazil, 116- 

Peggy, 188. 

Penn, William, 337-339. 
Pennsylvania, 330. 

Perkins Institution. See Massachu- 
setts School and Perkins Institution 
for the Blind. 

Philosophy, at RadclifFe, 11-15; by 
the fireside in Cambridge, 22-23; 
Helen Keller's, of life, 333-341. 

Philosophy of Loyalty, The, 17. 

Phiz, 18-19, 37- 

Pickford, Mary, 237-239. 

Pittsburgh, 126-127. 

Plato, 7, 12, 316. 

Piatt, George Foster, 189, 195, 201. 
Plautus, 9. 

36o IN 

Pliny, 174. 
Poetry, 9-10. 
Pope, 9. 

Porter, Edna, 264, 278, 309. 
Powell, Major, 112. 
Pratt, Mrs., 117. 

Printing for blind, confusion in, 

76-78, 81. 
Prometheus Unbound, 326. 
Psychologie des Femmes Aveugles, 83. 
Punch, 262. 

Quakers, 338-339- 
Queensborough, 295-296. 

RadclifFe College, Helen Keller a 
Sophomore, i; writes The Story of 
My Life at, 4-6; admission to, 7; 
method of study, 8-9; literature, 
9-10; history, lo-ii; philosophy, 
11-15; professors, 15-18; class- 
mates, 18-20; degree conferred, 
24-26; plan to force Hellen Keller 
to leave, 70-72; scene of Helen 
Keller's first definite interest in 
sightless as a group, 75; false reports 
about Helen Keller at, 85-86; 
method of following lectures, 87-88; 
Woodrow Wilson asks Helen Keller 
why she chose, 104; summer follow- 
ing first year spent with Dr. Bell, 
127 fF.; H. H. Rogers makes it 
possible for Helen Keller to attend, 
288; Miss Sullivan beside Helen 
Keller at, 345. 

Red Cross, braille service, 8. 

Reed, 318. 

Rhoades, Harsen John, 71, 281. 
Rhoades, Nina, 281. 
Rhode Island, 330. 
Riders of the Sea, 327. 
Roberts, Florence, 190. 
Robins in Helen Keller's garden 

Rochester School for the Deaf, 237. 
Rockefeller, John D., Jr., 241. 
Roebling, Colonel, 2, 3, 295. 
Rogers, H. H., 8, 47, 54, 71, 72, 74, 

139, 288-289. 
Rogers, Mrs. H. H., 54, 288-289. 
RoUand, Romain, 319, 336. 
Roosevelt, Theodore, 161, 173-174. 
Royal Normal College and Academy 

of Music, 75. 
Royce, Josiah, 16, 17. 


Russell, George {IE), 327. 
Russia, revolution in, 334-335. 

Sacco, 336. 

San Francisco, 160-164. 
Sandburg, Carl, 275. 
Saturday Evening Post, The, 283. 
"Saul," 326. 
Schall, Thomas, 235. 
Schiller, 10. 

School for Blind in Tokio, 278. 

Schopenhauer, 22. 

Schreiner, Olive, 323, 

Schulz, Helen, 251. 

Schurz, Carl, 102. 

Scott, Sir Walter, 143. 

Senses, development of, 11-15; Mark 

Twain's opinion of, 66; trained, 99; 

use of, 120; white darkness, 164; 

tested, 257-260. 
Seyburn, Mrs., 236. 
Shakespeare, William, 58, 119, 143. 
Shaw, George Bernard, 51, 319, 320, 


Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 9, 22, 325, 326. 

" Shoulder Arms," 194. 

Sibley, Harper, 237. 

Sibley, Mrs. Harper, 237. 

SiegUnde, 39, 186, 309-310. 

Sign system, 11 3-1 14. 

Sizeranne, Maurice de la, 83. 

Skylark, To a, 326. 

Sligo, 207-208. 

Smell, sense of, 164-166, 291. 

Smith, Lenore Kinney, 6, 20, 32, 235. 

Smith, Philip Sidney, 6, 20, 235. 

Smith College, 16. 

Smoke, 324. 

Socialism, 141. 

Socrates, 7, 12. 

Song of the Stone Wall, The, 35. 

Sonnets from the Portuguese, 18. 

Sonnets, Shakespeare's, 9, 

Sous les Trembles, 81. 

Spaulding, J. P., 30-31, 288. 

Speech, Helen Keller's struggle for, 
88-89; 90-98; first public, in Mont- 
clair, 96-98; Dr. Bell introduces 
Helen Keller's, 107; Dr. Bell's 
interest in, 108-110, 113-115, 116, 
122; at Richmond, 139. 

Sperry, Paul, 271. 

Spoon River Anthology, 323. 

Stadelman, Father, 253. 

St. Louis Exposition, 82. 




Star, Kansas City, 80. 
State Commission for Blind in Massa- 
chusetts, 75. 
Steele, 9. 
Stirner, Max, 22. 

Stormfield, Helen Keller's visit to, 

47, 52-69. 
Story of an African Farm, The, 323. 
Story of My Life, The, 4.-6, 7, 108, 188, 

249-250, 270. 
Strikes, 330. 
Stringer, Tommy, 252. 
Suffrage, woman, 103. 
Sullivan, Anne. See Macy, Anne 

Swedenborg, 15, 313. 
Swift, 9, 323-324. 
Swinburne, 22. 
Synge, 327. 

Tacitus, 9. 

Taft, William Howard, loi. 
Tagore, Rabindranath, 281-282. 
Teacher. See Macy, Anne Sullivan. 
Tempest, The, 132. 
Tennessee, 330. 
Terry, Ellen, 284. 
Tess of the D' Urbervilles, 323. 
Thaw, Mrs. William, 72, 74, 269. 
Thompson, Francis, 326-327. 
Thomson, Polly, 169, 177, 181, 182, 

186, 188, 189, 203, 238, 242, 262, 

268, 323. 
Thora, 38. 

Thoreau, 36, 314, 316. 

Three Diamonds, 321. 

Tilney, Frederick, 257. 

Tolstoi, Leo, 22, 319, 336. 

Touch, sense of, 256. See also Senses, 

development of. 
Tours, 149, fF. See also Lecture. 
Transcript, Boston, 39, 41. 
Traubel, Horace, 315. 
Trifles, 321. 
Turgenev, 324. 
Tuscumbia, 36, 

Twain, Mark. See Mark Twain. 
Tyson, Katherine, 309. 
Tyson, Mildred, 218, 309. 
Tyson, Patricia, 309. 
Tyson, Warren L., 218, 3C9. 

Ulysses, 198-199. 

Uniform Type Committee of the 

American Association of Workers 
for the Blind, 227-228. 
Utah, 330. 

"Valkyrie, The," 287. 

Value, Price, and Profit, 325. 

Van Dyke, Henry, 233-234, 236. 

Vanzetti, 336. 

V atra Luminosa, 74. 

Victoria, Queen, 143. 

Victory, 323. 

Villard, Oswald Garrison, 262-263. 

Virginibus Puerisque, 21S. 

Volta bureau, 115. 

Voltaire, 51. 

Von Maltzan, 235. 

Wade, William, 8. 
Wadsworth, Mrs., 235-236. 
Warburg, Felix, 241. 
Warfield, David, 285. 
Warren, George, 271, 
Warren, Mr., of Detroit, 236. 
Watson, Thomas, no, 118-119, 

122, 283-284. 
Weber, Harry, 213. 
Well of the Saints, The, 327. 
Wells, H.G., 319. 

Western Pennsylvania Institution for 

the Blind, 224, 
West Virginia, 330. 
White, Blanco, 131. 
White, Charles A., 88, 92-98, 271-272. 
White, Mrs. Charles, 271-272. 
"White darkness," 164. 
Whitefoot, 42. 

Whitman, Walt, 22, 167-168, 314-316, 

326, 339-340. 
Wilmer, William Holland, 231. 
Wilson, Woodrow, 48, 103-107, 171, 


Winter's Tale, A, p. 
Wollomonapoag, Lake, 26, 36. 
Woman suffrage, 103. 
Women's Educational and Industrial 

Union, 75. 
Wood, Leonard, General, 49. 
Wordsworth, 9, 143. 
Workers, Helen Keller becomes aware 

of condition of, 156-158. 
World I Live In, The, 15, 34, 52, 123, 


World's Work, 262. 

World War, 169-170 

Wrentham, 26, 29, 47, 70, 76, 83-88, 

3^2 INDEX 

93, 139, 148* 177, 182-183, 220, 273, Ziegler Magazine for the Blind. See 
AX7 • u r^ , c , , Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the 

Wnght-Humason Oral School, 92. Blind. 

^ „,.„. ^ , Ziegler, Mrs. William, 80. 

Yeats, William Butler, 327. Ziegler, William, 241. 

Young, Art, 283. Zoo, 125. 




HVl62i.! c» 3 

Keller, Helen Adams 

Date Due 


15 WEST 16th STREET